A new ePole, a hybrid solar and wind generating station, rises above the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre, which plans to sell the power it generates back to the power grid. The money raised will be reinvested in the centre.

Rouge Valley on pole position in green energy race

After having a low-sitting solar panel stolen off the grounds in 2007, the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre has really stepped it up this year.

A new ePole, a hybrid solar and wind turbine generating station, was centre stage at this year’s Fall for the Rouge Affair on Oct. 9. It had residents wondering why governments aren’t looking into building more of these revolutionary power generators.

“Why don’t they put more of these around here instead of these big, stupid propellers they keep trying to put in our lake,” lamented Mary Collins, a resident of the Rouge. “These are a much better solution.”

Proponents of the ePole say it takes the best aspects of wind and solar energy production, refines some of their flaws and combines them into a single, self-sufficient energy source while producing no negative emissions.

“These towers are completely silent, they generate 50 per cent more energy than turbines of the same size and they can operate in wind as low as 6 km/h,” said Tim Bird, sales manager for EfstonScience, the designer of the ePole.

The Rouge Valley Conservation Centre’s ePole was built last month and is on track to be hooked up to the Toronto Hydro power grid on Oct. 18. Rather than using the energy directly, the centre plans on selling the electricity to Toronto Hydro to help support the conservation area.

“We’re going to put the power back into the grid and help support the local area,” said Serena Lawrie, a Rouge Valley Foundation board member. “So basically we’re selling it back to [Toronto] Hydro and all the money is being put into the conservation centre.”

The Rouge Valley Conservation Centre already has a 20-year contract ensuring the new ePole generates money along with electricity. The pole, which cost about $100,000 to build, was paid for by government grants and public donations.

“The centre is looking at a 10–12 per cent return on every dollar they spent on the ePole, most investments bring you closer to 3 or 4 [per cent],” Bird said. “This is a sound investment and it promotes green energy.”

EfstonScience designed the poles with wildlife in mind. The wind turbine is a solid turning piece of metal that birds and bats can see and avoid, unlike the rotating blades of regular wind turbines. With 12 solar panels mounted on the poles, they don’t waste any space either.

“The next step is to have solar panels installed on the roof here at the conservation centre,” Bird said. “We’re hoping people start doing things like this at home.”

A few similar poles have gone up around the city, including one at the EfstonScience shop at 3350 Dufferin St.

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