County of Brant goes solar

Brantford, ON - County of Brant CAO Paul Emerson says the municipality is leading the way in Ontario when it comes big and small solar power generation contracts.

"The County of Brant is well-ahead of most municipalities in the province in this regard," Emerson said. "There is significant up-front investment, but with solar you receive good returns and it is a solid financial plan."

Emerson said the county needs to find more ways of generating revenue.

"We have recognized that we don't want to get into the position of other governments," Emerson said. "Brant County Power through Brant Renewable Energy has looked at solar power as being potential long-term revenue."

Brant County Power CEO Bruce Noble said the investment required for all solar projects in Brant now approved or under consideration for application is approximately $70 million. If all projects are approved, Noble said gross revenue generation for the municipality over 20-year contracts with the Ontario Power Authority is estimated at about $225 million.

"We are now closing in on our goal of applying for 10 megawatts of renewable energy generation for the County of Brant," Noble said during a recent presentation to county council. "These applications will be tested over the course of many months and ultimately we expect a contractual offer from the Ontario Power Authority."

Brant Renewable Energy is a division of Brant County Power, which is owned by the County of Brant.

Brant Renewable Energy consultant Peter Black said all microFIT applications – those under 10 kilowatts – submitted to the Ontario Power Authority have been approved and will be complete by mid-2012. Black said larger FIT applications will take longer to secure approvals from the OPA.

Noble said sites across the county approved under microFIT contracts include the Burford Library, St. George Fire Hall, Paris Road water tower, Paris Fire Hall, Mount Pleasant Community Hall, the rear parking lot of County of Brant council chambers in Paris and the former Hydro Electric property in St. George.

If approved, FIT projects would produce an expected additional 10 megawatts of solar power throughout the county.

Sites being considered for FIT contract applications include the Paris Landfill, a decommissioned gravel pit known as Peart Pit on Rest Acres Road, the Brant Sports Complex, a gravel pit on Keg Lane, the Gilbert Well Field lands in the north of Paris and county-owned lands on Puttown Road.

"With the FIT applications, it will be a while before we hear if they are approved," Black said.

Black said a hydro-electric project at the Paris Dam is also being considered by county and Brant Renewable Energy staff.

Noble said Brant Renewable Energy has also secured an additional 2.5 megawatts of power generation in the county through private sector contracts.