Brockville eager to push ahead with solar project
A $1.4-million rooftop solar-panel project could put Brockville at the vanguard of a burgeoning green technology industry in eastern Ontario, says economic development officer Dave Paul.
"It's called the 'clean-tech' industry. That's the buzzword now," Paul told The Recorder and Times during a phone interview Wednesday.
Paul said the Memorial Centre rooftop project, which won the enthusiastic, albeit conditional, approval of municipal council a night earlier, will provide immediate dividends and long-lasting benefits.
The conditional aspect is based on the city and Ontario Power Generation coming to an agreement on a Feed-In Tariff contract for power supplied to the province's electrical grid.
It's something Paul is confident will happen by February.
"It was an easy one for council to approve," said Paul.
For one thing, the project will reduce operating costs at the arena by almost $30,000 a year.
Secondly, the facility will begin generating a projected $200,000 annually from sales to the provincial power grid by June after the installation is completed.
The $1.4-million contract for the installation of solar panels is with Upper Canada Solar Generation and L.A. Knapp Inc. But the local spinoff will include at least three Brockville companies, involved in assembling and manufacturing processes, which wish to remain unidentified at this point, he said.
Payback on the $1.7-million project, funded by federal gas tax revenues, a federal-provincial RinC grant and a grant-loan combination from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, is about eight years, said Paul.
By that time, he and council hope to see the longer-term benefits of the project well-established.
He said the rooftop project will require local manufacturing and assembly expertise, developing a skilled workforce and making the city a hub of solar-energy activity just as the industry is set to take off in eastern Ontario.
Moreover, a demonstration project set up in the lobby of the arena will indicate how many kilowatts of power the solar panels provide.
He said the project will be of interest to local residents, but is also aimed at piquing the interest of visitors who could hire local expertise for their own solar projects.
"We expect to see a lot more activity in this industry in the future...