Pickering community can go off-grid with nested microgrid technology

Click to play video: 'A nested microgrid community has been completed in Pickering'
A nested microgrid community has been completed in Pickering
Nearly 30 people are getting the chance to live off the grid after moving into nested microgrid community. The technology allows them to use solar panels to help save and conserve energy in their homes. Frazer Snowdon has more. – Nov 12, 2021

If you’ve ever wanted to live off the grid — a newly built Pickering development may be just the place for you.

Conor Soye has been living in his home since earlier this year. He says within the first few months he noticed a major difference in how his energy is being used.

“At the most expensive time for taking electricity off the grid, it’s actually discharging 100 per cent from the battery,” he says.

Altona Towns is the first pre-planned nested microgrid community to be built in Canada and gives residents the capability to charge up a Tesla battery in their home using solar panels on the roof. The development is the result of a partnership between Elexicon, Marshall Homes and Opus One Solutions.

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Vice-president of Technology and Innovation at Elexicon, Falguni Shah, says they’re changing how people use their power.

“All these energy resources are working and communicating through a microgrid energy management system,” says Shah.

The power is taken in through the solar panels, then stored in a unit for future use. Shah says this is not only useful for residents to store energy, but also helps during a power outage as well.

“They have more control on their battery as well. They can utilize it the way they want it to,” she says.

Click to play video: 'Village of Carmangay becomes latest southern Alberta municipality to go solar'
Village of Carmangay becomes latest southern Alberta municipality to go solar

It’s not the first developer to set the bar so high for sustainable living in Pickering. Last year, Geranium Homes made a partnership to install greywater conservation systems into a new development not far from the microgrid homes.

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Soye lives in one of 27 units in the community located on Altona Road in Pickering. He says simply put, he can carry out tasks like doing laundry on peak times, without paying on-peak prices. He says it has cut his power bill in half since moving from downtown Toronto.

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“During the day the entire house is powered entirely by stored electrical energy,” he says.

“At night basically the power wall has been discharged during the day and it recharges at the lowest cost of energy.”

The design includes a 25-kilowatt solar array of panels installed on the roof of the townhome unit. This provides around 10 per cent of the total power needed to run the community.

President and CEO of the Independent Electricity System Operator Lesley Gallinger says if we can build more homes with this technology, we can reduce the demand on the power grid — in turn decreasing the need for more power infrastructure.

“What this potentially could do is defer the need to build large-scale projects like new generation or new transmission, because this community is managing their own local use,” says Gallinger.

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Residents living in the microgrid community have the flexibility of choosing how they use energy. Much like an electric car, users can monitor their use of electricity.

“This has set the benchmark right, and I believe there will be more of these communities going forward,” says Soye.

On top of solar power, Altona Towns residents also have charging stations for electric vehicles, giving them yet another boost toward living a more sustainable lifestyle.

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