Saturday, May 24, 2008

Energy & the Environment Stewardship at The Princess & the Pea B & B

Local Langley Heroes
For Energy & the Environment Stewardship
Sharon & Wally Martin

Both Sharon & Wally Martin who run and own the best, most unique and quaintest multi-unit Bed & Breakfast in the lower mainland has scored another first. Their Princess & The Pea B&B, formerly known as the Traveler’s Hotel, is an historic Langley landmark located at the immediate south east corner of the equally famous Murrayville community five corners (Langley’s first traffic circle). The Martin’s, restored the landmark and historic Traveler’s Hotel structure. They re-built it with lots of elbow grease, time and most of all, love for the historic structure. It is one of Langley’s most rare, treasured and historically recognized buildings. They made sure to keep it as true as much as possible to its original ambience right down to the furnishings. Their latest substantial investment is the recent addition of multiple solar panels that generate electricity from the sun’s rays. This also helps protect our environment as it is the cleanest non carbon burning alternative energy source.

Wally is no stranger to energy innovation, as he has previously undertaken just about every type of energy savings measures possible. He says he is not done yet and has even more ideas! For instance, he uses LED lighting in lieu of incandescent and hangs his wash, including his guest’s bed sheets, out to dry on a clothesline! In fact Wally told me that he even gets some B&B reservations just because the clients like the idea of having their sheets dried on an outside open fresh air clothesline rather than in a fabric softener laden electrical spin dryer.

The unique thing about Wally’s solar power electricity generation is that it is not stored in batteries but instead “BC Hydro is essentially the storage battery” says Martin. When the solar panels generate electricity from the sun the excess electricity is sent back down on the same hydro lines that provides the B&B’s power. Wally explained that he thinks he may be the first to provide this electrical power co-generation in Langley and possibly even South of the Fraser. He believes that only a total of 75 others are presently co-generating electricity in BC as he is. In the previous inaugral year when BC Hydro encouraged and accommodated this service, there were only about a total of 15 co-generation electricity providers.

The 10 silicon based solar panels are mounted facing the south sun on a variable degree angle at the back of the B&B. He estimates that his B&B uses about a total of 10 mega watt hours annually and that this installation alone can be expected to save one quarter to one fifth of his electricity load annually. Wally is also contemplating a further doubling of these solar panels some time in the near future. When asked how much this installation cost him and what pay back he could expect, he simply answered that it cost him about “half the cost of a large touring motorcycle”. He further explained that he compared the payback to the personal satisfaction and joy of a prestige motorcycle as well. He also pointed out that with the ever escalating price of utilities it could well perhaps pay for itself in the not to very distant future.

The Princess & The Pea Bed & Breakfast is recommended for its superb services, food, facilities and setting. Now its owners, Wally & Sharon Martin are further respected for being truly unique local Langley heroes and trendsetters in energy and environmental efficiency. But more importantly, they obviously care enough to actually do something substantial to better our environment. Thank you. Congratulations Sharon & Wally Martin.

Pictures & story courtesy of Bob Richter ...

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