The Solar Energy Stars are Aligned

On a Monday afternoon in May 1998, Keith Milligan, Leader of the Official Opposition on Prince Edward Island, was playing golf at the Mill River Golf Course, up west.

The Guardian picks up the story from there in its May 20, 1998 edition (emphasis mine):

Had Keith Milligan been further along in his golf game when he was stricken by a massive heart attack Monday afternoon, he might not have lived long enough to see the emergency room at Community Hospital in O’Leary.

We were lucky,” Liberal MLA Hector MacLeod said Tuesday.

MacLeod was with Milligan at the Mill River resort when the Liberal leader’s heart attack hit on the second hole.

We were joking back and forth about the game, the way we always do. I only knew there was something wrong when I saw a couple of the people we were golfing with putting him into the cart and running him back to the parking lot. If we’d been further out it could have been very bad.”

As it was, Milligan required electrical defibrillation to get his heart restarted when he arrived at the Community Hospital in O’Leary.

Dr. Herb Dickieson, leader of the Island New Democrats, was the doctor on call at Community Hospital when Milligan arrived.

Milligan was leader of the Liberal Party, Dickieson of the NDP: that one should save the life of the other is a uniquely Prince Edward Island story; surprising, but not that surprising.

I thought of that episode, 21 years ago, when I read a story today, also in The Guardian, about ministerial disclosure statements: it turns out that Hon. Brad Trivers, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change, is a shareholder in Solar Island Electric, an enterprise of which Green Party MLA Steve Howard, and Shadow Critic for Transportation, Infrastructure, and Energy, is President.

Trivers laid out the details of the relationship on his blog three years ago, when he was in opposition; in part:

Last year when I was reading this article about the future of energy it got me excited about solar again, so I looked into what might be available on Prince Edward Island.  Incidentally some version of these two statements from that article (on the Wait But Why site) is what I would like to see as the base of the PEI Energy Strategy:

    1) We need almost everything we use to be running on electricity.

    2) We need almost all of our electricity to be produced from sustainable sources.

My research led me to a company founded by Islander Steve Howard called Renewable Lifestyles.  This company promised to source and install PV solar panels that are guaranteed for 25 years, and should last 40 years, with almost no maintenance.  But, more importantly, it can be done with a reasonable payback period for my investment – I wouldn’t have to wait 20 years after they were installed to start actually making money on the investment.  This seemed almost too good to be true.  So I set up a meeting with Steve Howard to try to understand how this could be.  I soon found out that the PV solar panels themselves, although cheaper than in the past, were still fairly expensive – but in the absence of any straight-forward government incentives he had figured out a way to use existing programs to make it affordable.

First off, how great is it that the Minister of Climate Change has a long-term interest in solar energy, has a blog, and has used that blog to describe, in commendable detail, what steps his family took to install solar generation capacity.

Second off, how great is it that the Shadow Critic for Transportation, Infrastructure, and Energy owns a solar energy company.

And, finally, how great is it that the two have a pre-existing relationship around solar energy and are now part of a collaborative Legislative Assembly.

If good things cannot come from this alignment of stars, I don’t know when they will.


Thelma's picture
Thelma on July 24, 2019 - 17:19 Permalink

I loved that detail in today's story as well. To circle your story back around, Keith installed a solar panel system that he designed himself on his home a few years ago, so I think your post should qualify for a carbon credit or something!