City Council in Owen Sound, Ontario, will soon decide whether the municipality will join the province’s green economy with a pair of ground-mounted solar installations on city-owned property.
Within the next few months, Owen Sound’s Environmental Superintendent, Chris Hughes, will present a plan to Council for two 10 kW installations that the city’s Environmental and Waste Advisory Committee expects to cost $171,000 before taxes. The projects will generate revenue by participating in the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA’s) lucrative microFIT program. The committee reviewed proposals from nine different companies and selected Toronto’s Essex Energy Corporation (Essex Energy) to build photovoltaic systems at the Kiwanis Soccer Complex and at a public works facility in the city. Essex Energy is a division of Essex Power Corporation (Essex Power) that specializes in renewable energy systems and distributed generation.
Ontario’s microFIT pays above-market rates, locked into twenty-year contracts, to owners of small-scale alternative energy-generating installations who tie their projects into the province’s power grid. The program and its companion feed-in tariff (FIT) for larger projects create clean power as well as jobs for graduates of photovoltaic training classes.
Projects Would Create Alternative Energy, Jobs for Photovoltaic Class Graduates
“It’s environmentally responsible. It’s cost-neutral to begin with and, ultimately, it will be a source of revenue for the city in the future,” says Councillor Bill Twaddle, Chairman of the advisory committee. The projects, if approved, will also create jobs in the region, as the FIT and microFIT require participating developers to acquire up to 60% of materials and labour from within the province.
If City Council agrees to take on the projects, the two photovoltaic installations will represent Owen Sound’s first foray into alternative energy since the province began to offer financial incentives for clean electricity. “This is kind of a small introduction into the whole thing,” says Councillor Twaddle. The committee expects the solar installations to pay for themselves within ten years and generate income for the city for the remainder of the microFIT contracts. Owen Sound’s entry into the solar market brings the region into step with many other municipalities that, with the help of the OPA and graduates of the province’s photovoltaic classes, do their part to take Ontario into a greener future.