SCUGOG: The hotly debated development of the Illumination LP Solar project on Regional Rd. 19 will continue moving forward, and could net the township $225,000 in exchange for prime farm lands.
Scugog Township councillors agreed to a tentative contract with Canadian Solar Solutions Inc. (formerly known as Skypower) at a Council meeting on Monday, April 10.
In an effort to avoid a compromising situation in the future, Scugog Township has created an agreement which outlines the need for projected monetary compensation for the township, landscaping and grading reports, schedules of trucks, and reimbursement for fire department training, township staff usage, and resources.
"This particular project is virtually ready to start, we are just approving some final landscaping and grading plans," said Don Gordon, Scugog's Director of Community Services. "Canadian Solar has their financing lined up and will be ready to go in short order - I fully expect that this project will be started this spring." In order to reduce the initial cost to the township, Canadian Solar has offered to provide $70,000 worth of solar panel hardware for the site, which will generate an estimated 30 megawatts of solar energy.
The installation cost of the hardware is estimated to be $50,000 to Scugog - but feeding into the grid will earn a profit of approximately $11,250 per year, or $225,000 over the next 20 years.
"It should be remembered that the proponents have no legal obligation to provide compensation," said Mr. Gordon in a report. "However, staff have used any and all leverage in order to achieve a beneficial outcome to a project that Scugog Township did not support."
Township staff will begin the process of scouting local township owned structures for use as Feed-in-Tariff sites, and will determine if structural strength and power capacity are up to par.
"We have reached an agreement with Canadian Solar, but it was apparent earl on that the type of deal we reached with Solray would not be reachable," said Don Gordon, Scugog's Director of Community Services. "The energy would be fed into the power grid, but we need to find a location which can accommodate the additional energy." Mr. Gordon explained that "one location which springs to mind is the Scugog Arena, but it may be beneficial to look at sites closer to the Illumination project - such as the Blackstock Rec Centre."
The inception of the Illumination project began in July of 2011, but drew strong opposition from Council due to the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which allowed prime agricultural lands to be re-zoned for renewable energy projects. After a 2013 hearing and mediation with the Environment Review Tribunal, Scugog was granted more control of the project's location and terms.
"These Class 'A' farm lands, once outfitted with solar equipment, will be taxed at the industrial level," said Mayor Chuck Mercier. "We welcome this new source of income. The loss of farm land is regrettable, but it's one of the outcomes of using new-age technologies in a modern world."