Calgary engineer is making a difference one solar panel at a time

As the world watches the climate change conference in Glasgow, one man says it's time to think about what we can do at home

By Krista Sylvester | November 7, 2021 |10:00 pm

Kae Shummoogum has made the switch from low-emission to zero-emission. He encourages fellow Calgarians to take advantage of government initiatives, including the Canada Greener Homes Grant.

Photo: Submitted

Zero-emission may sound impossible to some, but a local engineer is showing that it’s possible. 

Recently, all eyes are on the UN Climate Change COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland where numerous countries are meeting in an effort to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. Back home here in Calgary, Kae Shummoogum is making a difference of his own. 

Shummoogum has leveraged the federal government’s ‘Commercial Solar Tax Incentive’ to install enough solar panels on the roof of his building to power not only his business, but the three electric vehicles he keeps plugged behind his business. 

These renovations are the final step in making his business completely zero-emission. Six years ago, Shummoogum started the process by switching to a Nissan LEAF electric vehicle (EV), before eventually switching to a Tesla EV. 

“It’s taken a while but it was really about moving to low emission (first),” he explains, adding this year he decided to take advantage of the federal government’s energy-efficient incentives. 

“I decided to put solar panels on the roof of my office — I installed 29 solar panels.”

Then, last week, Shummoogum hit a milestone

“If we put that energy that I generated into my vehicle, it will go around the world once, which is over 40,000 kilometres in five months. So that’s pretty amazing. It’s almost like having a gas station on the roof of a building.”

He says having solar panels generate energy for EVs is an easy way to save money. 

“I don’t worry about the gas prices. And it has a positive impact on the climate, in terms of lowering our carbon footprint,” he says. 

“To me, the most important and the most immediate need is clean air. Pollution is a problem everywhere around the world, including in Canada. So we need to reduce pollution.”

Shummoogum says clean air is something that isn’t talked about as much in a country such as Canada, but it’s still an issue. 

“In Calgary, we think of our air as being clean, but 80 per cent of indoor air in cold climates is recycled. So we have surprisingly high levels of indoor air pollution. The more people who reduce or eliminate their emissions, the easier it is for everyone to breathe clean air.”

He encourages Calgarians to consider what steps they can take to reduce their emissions here at home — and he says one of the best ways is to take advantage of the $5,000 rebate from the government to pay for energy-efficient retrofits like solar panels. 

Take advantage of those federal incentives 

The Canada Greener Homes Grant is capped at 750,000 homes. In just the first 4 months, just 150,000 Canadian households have used it. 

“Right now, Canada is offering businesses and homeowners generous rebates to go solar. Once you do, you stand to save a significant amount of money on your energy costs. It’s a win-win.”

He says before the grants when solar energy was new, it would have taken 25 years to pay for them. Now with the government grant, that number is down to under 10 years. 

Shummoogum figures he has saved about $7,000 in five months with his solar panels. 

“It doesn’t cost much for electricity but if you take that and displace your gasoline consumption, then you’re talking about leveraging enough solar energy to produce $7,000 worth of energy.” 

Shummoogum is offering free advice and demos to people who want to know how they can start reducing emissions and saving money through smart solar and EV charging stations. 

He’s also inviting Calgarians to use his charging station for free 

“If anybody has an electric car, and they’re running out of power, or they want some boost in charging, it’s available at my office for free of charge. It’s so low energy, and they can get educated on solar energy.” 

He invites people to come to juice up their cars at 823 — 41 Ave. NE, Bay 8, at the back of the Gasonic Group. After office hours is preferred, but there’s no need to check-in. People can phone 403-276-2201 if they have questions. 

Shummoogum is the founder of Gasonic Group, which helps businesses measure and improve indoor air quality. His goal is to put himself out of business by teaching people to protect the air we breathe.

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Krista Sylvester

Reporter at Calgary Citizen

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