Solar panels are increasingly becoming a part of the Lanark County landscape, like this panel in a farmer's field in Kilmarnock, between Smiths Falls and Merrickville.
Perth town council has voted to support two local businesses as they seek to tap into provincial funding for green energy projects.
The motion had been adopted in principle at the committee-of-the-whole meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, but Coun. Beth Peterkin noted that she and the town’s chief administrative officer, John deRosenroll, took advantage of the interim period to talk to Bob Argue of EcoPerth.
“(Argue was) very helpful giving us information on the Green Energy Act,” said Peterkin during the town council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Argue noted that while the rates for producing green energy, like solar and wind-generated power, had fallen from a provincially-set 80 cents per kilowatt hour to only 55 cents per kilowatt hour, “it still is a good reason to produce green energy,” and because installation costs have also come down.
Two Perth-based businesses have signed a contract with a private company in southwestern Ontario to install solar panels on the roof of their businesses in town. This support from council will help them garner points needed to be awarded a FIT (feed in tariff) contract.
“The return on investment is still similar to what it was when it started a few years ago,” said Peterkin.
The Solar Panel Network, in its presentation to council on Sept. 11, had proposed one of two motions – one to support just the two businesses in their pursuit of the funding, and another “blanket” proposal. Argue recommended against the blanket proposal to give the green light to all such green energy proposals so as each new project would still have to come before council.
Peterkin and Argue did have some questions of future projects however, such as which of Perth’s six transfer stations the green energy project would feed in to, and how much capacity they would be using at that station.
“We, in house, may want to install solar panels at the arena, this building (town hall),” said Peterkin. “We are in no way putting our DeRue Farm (project) on a lower priority.”
Coun. Jim Boldt stated that while he would be voting in favour of the motion “because there is a financial gain to the proponents,” he wondered what good was being accomplished from the “generating all of this excess power… we don’t need all of this excess power.”
Boldt pointed out that the energy system was meant to produce power in a type of hub-and-spoke way, with power generated in one area and then distributed out, instead of having a lot of smaller “micro-power” points feeding in to a larger system.
“I’m not totally sold on the entire movement of getting extra hydro in such an expensive way,” Boldt said.