City council is being asked to support almost two dozen applications to build solar panels in Greater Sudbury, as area landowners clamour to take part in the province’s FIT Program.
Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program offers small green power generators a chance to sell power to the provincial grid at a guaranteed rate. The controversial program has been revamped, with new rules being announced in October.
The province froze the process as it came up with the new rules, and only began taking new applications under Version 2 of FIT on Dec. 14. The window of opportunity to apply closes Jan. 18, which means anyone who wants to participate has to get their paperwork done quickly.
Applications are graded on a points system, with points added for projects that receive municipal support. The tight timelines mean city councillors will be asked to back 23 such projects, each proposing to generate 10 kilowatts of power a year or more.
The majority of the projects are tied to Community Energy Development Co-Operative Ltd. (CEDC) Vigor Sunshare JV, a Petersburg, Ont., company that has an office in Lively.
“The areas in which project development is occurring include Waterloo Region, Guelph, Greater Sudbury, Blind River and Fort Frances,” a staff report says of the company. “A minimum of 50 members of the co-op come from each of these areas; however, membership in the CED co-op is open to all people who live in Ontario.”
CEDC is behind 13 of the 23 applications. The largest projects are expected to generate 500 kilowatts of power each, and they’re located in sites in Hanmer, Dowling, Worthington and on Neimi Drive in Sudbury.
Under new FIT rules, applicants are required to set aside more land to act as a buffer between the solar panels and other properties in the area.
To be eligible, projects must meet the following criteria:
-for a project up to and including 10 MW, the setback is 20 metres from all property lines;
-if the project will abut a residential area, for any sized project, the setback is 100 metres from the nearest property line of the residential area. Municipalities can pass a resolution that indicates agreement for a reduced setback, but it cannot be less than 20 metres.
-Projects must comply with the visual screening requirements and maintain the visual buffer for the length of the contract.
For example, “a 500-kilowatt installation uses approximately three hectares (7.4 acres) for installation,” says a staff report on the proposals.
Other proposed solar panels are slated for Capreol, other parts of Sudbury, Lively, Hanmer and Chelmsford. City council, which has in the past approved all such applications, will vote on the projects at its Jan. 15 meeting.