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Crowdfunding clean energy infrastructure

Terrace local sells clothing to cover installation costs with Step3Project
Dean Campbell from Hartman Electric, Dan Nickierz from Complete Electric and Step3Project founder Tristan Walker stand in front of the Larsen Bridge Backcountry Cabin where teams helped install crowdfunded solar panels to light the insides of the cabin and adjacent outhouse. (Contributed photo)

Terrace local Tristan Walker is putting a creative spin on promoting green energy installations.

The Step3Project sells clothing and accessories to crowdfund renewable energy infrastructure for places that are inaccessible to a normal power grid, or rely on fuel-powered generators.

Each purchase includes a donation to cover the cost of installing three watts of renewable energy generation - or two hours of light per day from one light bulb - through equipment like solar panels, windmills and thermal electric systems.

“This means for each purchase, three watts of energy will be generated for as long as the infrastructure is operating,” according to the project’s website.

Walker started the project in January after discovering an interest in wind farm engineering while studying at Carleton University in Ottawa. The fourth-year engineering student said he wanted to find a way to combine sustainable energy with a desire to start his own clothing business, and came up with the ‘Step3’ name after learning one watt of renewable energy costs approximately $3.33 to install.

“I really wanted to give people something they could be apart of so that they could feel that they’re doing something. When they buy a shirt or when they buy a hat, they can be apart of what we’re doing and have an effect on the world,” Walker said.

The clothing and accessories are available online, at the Terrace Visitors Centre and All-Star Shoes downtown, with prices ranging between $57 to $5.

Recently Step3 completed its first project where it funded, designed and installed renewable energy for the Larsen Ridge Backcountry Ski Cabin southwest of Terrace, owned by the Mount Remo Backcountry Society. This full-day project took 67 t-shirts to fund the solar panels, with volunteer help from Canadian Helicopters, Complete Electric, Hartman Electric, and Prevost RV.

“We showed up at the helicopter base, loaded everything up and flew up to the cabin. We spent the day putting up the solar panels and wiring the cabin, we also wired the outhouse as well so it had light,” Walker said.

Altogether, this provided the Larsen Bridge Backcountry Cabin with 200 watts of continual solar energy. Recently, Step3 also lent a hand to Shames Mountain Coop to restore its battery bank.

“It’s the way I think our world should start to lean, and we should start to strive to move further down that road of trying to be completely sustainable and not have to take things out of the earth to sustain ourselves,” he said.

In the future, he hopes to continue working with other cabins owned by Mount Remo Backcountry Society and to garner attention around Step3 in Ottawa before he graduates this spring.

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