The green light has been given by the government to develop Sudbury's first community-owned solar project.
Arik Theijsmeijer, president of Sun Co-operative, said the group has just received approval of their Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) application from the provincial government, meaning the province agrees to let the co-operative sell them power for the next 20 years.
On Sept. 9, the group celebrated the news at Fromagerie Elgin.
“It's been a few years in the making, and this 100-member strong co-op has been patient,” said Theijsmeijer. “It was a long process with a lot of paper work. We're excited to be breaking ground soon.”
Their plan is a 500-kilowatt project situated on five acres in Wanup. It will cost a little more than $5 million to build, Theijsmeijer said. It will provide enough to power about 500 homes. The group is hoping to break ground late next year before the snow flies.
“We're still designing it, but we will make sure it won't bother anyone in the area,” he said. “Our next step is to get together the offering of community bonds, to offer everyone the opportunity to be part owners in this project.
“Our goals are three fold,” he said. “We want to promote renewable energy and do our part in fighting climate change, to bring energy back to community ownership, and to be able to provide people with a local investment opportunity.
Investments of at least $1,000 will be available, he said.
“We believe it will provide a safe and profitable return for anyone who invests.”
Sun Co-operative is working with partner Soventix Inc. to build the ground-mounted and tracking solar array which will feed directly into the energy grid.
Bullfrog Power helped to fund the development of the project.
“SUN Co-op’s first project is a great example of the potential growth for community power projects in Northern Ontario,” said Ron Seftel, CEO, Bullfrog Power, in a news release. “Bullfrog Power is able to contribute to organizations like SUN Co-op through our Community Renewable Projects program, thanks to the support of bullfrog-powered individuals and business across Canada.”