Nelson Solar Garden

Nelson, British Columbia

The Nelson Community Solar Garden Project is Canada’s first community solar garden installation. The 60 kW project employs an innovative “virtual net-metering” subscription model to give citizens a new way to support community-scale solar.

In a virtual net-metering subscription model, residents make a fixed-term initial investment in an individual solar panel, and receive an annual credit on their energy bill from their utility based on the panel’s energy generation. Bullfrog Power provided financial support to the project to ensure the first of its kind could be built here in Canada.

Below, members of the community share their thoughts on the project and what it means to them.


Kim Horrocks
Investor, Nelson Solar Garden

Since getting involved with the Nelson Solar Garden, I’ve learned that a renewable project’s impact transcends dollar figures. You can’t assign a monetary value to the community relationships, energy infrastructure and public education being nurtured within our community.

When I visited the Nelson Solar Garden with fellow investors, I realized something: we’re all just regular Nelson citizens, spanning a diverse range of ages and demographics. The tour of the project allowed us to connect with each other and collectively show our support for the project.

Nelson is an example of how community-driven green energy projects can succeed—which I hope will be emulated throughout Canada. My hope is that word of this story will spread to other Nelson citizens who may not have heard about the project, and that support for renewables will continue to grow. We have already been covered in newspaper articles in B.C.

I brought my eight-year-old son, Zane, along with me to the tour of the Nelson Solar Garden. I want to teach him about this project as I believe it is a strong demonstration of the types of energy projects that will become more commonplace in his lifetime. I also believe involving youth in these kinds of community projects will help create more responsible citizens.

This project is important to Nelson and to British Columbia because exploring and developing alternative energy projects will allow us to better understand how energy is developed—and how our consumption impacts supply. We also see the potential of and beauty in alternate forms of energy.


Gary Ockenden
Investor, Nelson Solar Garden

I am a homeowner and customer in Nelson, B.C., who has invested in a solar panel at the Nelson Solar Garden. I have followed the Nelson project’s developments: from vision, to planning, to construction of the project.

I think people who own Nelson panels feel a sort of kinship with each other. Many people in this community are active on climate change issues, and this project has reinforced the common understanding that we can accomplish great things together. The project is one more piece in the puzzle—a piece that gives people a way to act both individually and collectively, and to model behavioural change in a very public way.

The project’s size is modest at this point—but it will only grow in scale and impact, and will help shift our local culture to one of environmental action. Opportunities to invest in local green energy have also opened new dialogue in our community: publicly in newspaper letters to the editor, and privately around kitchen and coffee shop tables.

We should both take personal action as well as encourage local, provincial and national governments and organizations to be bold in their actions. While there may be costs upfront and minor sacrifices to be made, we will be doing what is right.


Alison MacLeod
Principal, Structural Engineer, MacLeod Nine Consultants Ltd.

We provided the structural design for Nelson Solar Garden’s solar panel racking system. It was a lot of fun working with Nelson Hydro, local consultants, contractors and the community to come up with a cost-effective design!

The racking was built using cedar due to its durability for exterior applications and low maintenance. Plus, it was locally sourced, which was important for this type of project.

I’m very impressed with how Nelson Hydro embraces new and innovative green technology, which will help meet the City’s energy needs. The City of Nelson’s power consumption currently exceeds what the utility’s hydroelectric dam can provide. The Nelson solar project is important not just to our community, but to others looking to take on similar projects. Green energy technology continues to improve on a daily basis, but only with increased demand.

This project is a step in the right direction. Projects like the Nelson Solar Garden help fuel the continued innovation that our planet needs if we want to stick with our current lifestyle or improve on existing technology.


Marcel Jacques
Investor, Nelson Solar Garden

I was very excited to learn about the Nelson solar project. When I learned about it, I invested in it right away.

Many neighbours I talked to had a negative response to the project, due to lack of knowledge about the project itself. I am hoping that the project will help people realize the importance and urgency of taking action for the environment.

I was surprised to see how many people I knew at the site tour for the Solar Garden. Professionals, acquaintances and young families were all getting together to create change. It felt good to see the panels installed and ready to hook up to the grid. This project is a positive change made possible by a caring community.

This project was so successful in the Nelson area—it has created interest in other communities. They now want to get involved and start their own solar projects. I especially hope that the younger generation sees that when everyone gets together for the environment, change can happen.