News Local

Municipalities embrace solar power projects

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today


Local community solar-power generating projects are getting well off the ground, so to speak, with both Cobourg and Hamilton Township council's agreeing to lease infrastructure space on the roofs of some of their arenas.

The township's council endorsed the project for the roof of the Baltimore Recreation Centre proposed by Northumberland Community Power Co-Operative Inc. last week, and the town's council did the same several weeks earlier for the two older arenas on Hibernia, the power co-operative's spokesman Rich Tyssen told Northumberland Today.

"Now it's all the technical stuff (to be done)," he said.

The council approvals are timely as it's expected that the provincial government's FITT contract applications will open at the end of this week, Tyssen said.

"We think we have a good chance at getting that (provincial financial contract)."

Among his reasons for the assessment is that those co-operatives that are community based are being given priority for the contracts. Here in Northumberland they have more county members than the minimum 50%, he said, and at least 60 of the 70 county co-op members have owned land in Northumberland for two years or more.

If successful in achieving a FITT contract, the power-generating co-op will go to the public looking for investments early this spring, he said.

Before that, however, structural engineers will examine the arena roofs to ensure they can support the weight of solar panels; they will design a solar system and cost its production; and then a formal leasing arrangement will be completed with the municipalities, Tyssen explained.

"Because Northumberland Community Power Co-operative is a not-for-profit co-operative, any surplus funds from operations (otherwise called profits) will be sued to development additional renewable energy projects in Northumberland Country, or other environmentally sustainable projects in the county," states a memo from Tyssen which councils considered before supporting the projects.

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