Town Council gets pitch on rooftop solar power
At Monday’s council session the company’s delegate, consultant David Hahn, sought a resolution endorsing Solar Power’s concept, thus clearing the way for the company to start amassing Ontario Power Authority (OPA) “priority points” that would allow Solar Power to contribute a share of the limited number of solar megawatts being taken on by the Hydro One grid.
Council was not adverse to a solar network, but was not convinced that Solar Power Network could perform such a function any better than Orangeville Hydro, a utility the town already owns.
When Mr. Hahn said circumstances required that Solar Power have its OPA process ready by as early as the end of August, Council agreed to refer the matter to town staff and have the basis for a decision by its next public meeting on August 13.
In a report to Council, Solar Power explained that its endorsement would, under the new Feed-In Tariff program rules, grant local businesses priority in receiving OPA approval to commence installation. “But, (it) will in no way circumvent the right of the Council of the Town of Orangeville to engage in review or oversight of these projects.
“Solar Power Network is not seeking and will not seek any financial or material aid from the Council of the Town of Orangeville.”
The report also explained that the company’s solar panel mounting approach results in most panels being invisible from street level, and would maintain a building’s aesthetics. “Encouraging the development of rooftop solar will further the environmental plan of the Town of Orangeville and stimulate local commerce without introducing problematic eyesores,” the report said.
On Monday night, Mr. Hahn warned that, due to schedules imposed by the Ontario Power Authority, time has become a factor to the point where an endorsement resolution would need to be passed by Council “by end of August at the latest” to get projects under way during the 2012 calendar year.
Melissa Clark, Solar Power’s vice president of sales operations, concluded in an interview that “sometimes, our friends at the OPA are not sensitized to industry or municipal realities.”
Mayor Rob Adams shared her skepticism Monday night, stating it was “very typical” of the OPA to be late issuing its own regulations.
The authority’s “priority points” are gained through a number of means.
Ms. Clark said that, for example, a solar company would receive OPA points for obtaining a municipal endorsement resolution. It would then get additional points when it finds a location and does the initial design groundwork.
Having a third-party engineer contributing to the project would result in even more points.
The areas of the province that have the most priority points would be where the grid would purchase and draw its solar power.
Mr. Hahn told Council Monday that Solar Power already has an operation in Orangeville that is producing about 250 kilowatts of electricity.
Councillor Mary Rose appeared less than convinced when she asked: “How does any of this differ from what our own Orangeville Hydro is doing?”
Councillor Gail Campbell expressed her concerns about a clause in the resolution that would essentially permit Solar Power to approach whomever, in whatever building, it pleased.
Eventually, it was decided to refer the endorsement request to town staff that, in turn, would be asked to have a report and recommendations in place by August 13.