THUNDER BAY – Plans for an innovative solar power project on the vacant lot at Bay and Algoma have been officially shelved by the Superior Renewable Energy Cooperative.
“It’s still a great concept, but the project is not viable at this time – there are too many factors beyond our control,” says SREC president Charles Campbell.
The group was planning to erect a series of four solar arrays in the shape of spruce trees on the Petro-Canada-owned property, in partnership with the Finlandia Club, which holds a lease on the land, and community investors. The concept was to develop an attractive public space which included an income-earning solar power project under Ontario’s micro-FIT incentive program.
However, the province’s Green Energy Act requires a minimum 40-percent Ontario-made content for all renewable energy projects, which rises to 60% in 2011. The triangular panels required for the Solar Forest arrays are not made in Ontario, and their production has recently been discontinued. Delays in resolving property issues also held up the project. The final blow was the Ontario Power Authority’s current plan to reduce the ground-mounted solar incentive from 80.2 cents to just 64.2 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“The Solar Forest arrays were designed to be artistic and add a unique element to the downtown landscape, while also producing just enough power to offer a worthwhile return to investors,” explains Campbell, “but there was not enough generation to make the project feasible with the reduced incentive.”
SREC is continuing to pursue other community-owned solar projects as well as providing information and events to increase public awareness of renewable energy options. Membership is open to the public, with more details at www.srecwind.ca