Minden Hills denies support for eight solar projects
By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills councillors denied a support resolution for eight proposed projects by Toronto’s Abundant Solar Energy Inc. during a special meeting Sept. 10.
Council had been approached by reps from the company in June, seeking support for small-FIT (feed-in-tariff) projects throughout the township, each generating up to 500 kilowatts of power and occupying up to five acres of land.
All of the sites are on private property, with lease agreements negotiated with the property owners.
On Thursday, consultant Steve Tunks reminded councillors of the potential benefit to the township - $1,000 per site, per year – paid to the municipality from the company’s community co-op, and stressed the company’s pledge to ensure the ground-mounted installations were not visible from roads, neighbouring properties or lakes.
As she has said before, Councillor Jeanne Anthon expressed concern over the proliferation of solar power proposals and projects within the four lower tier townships of Haliburton County.
“The county has no idea what the accumulation of all these projects is,” Anthon said. “I am very concerned about this whole consideration.”
Abundant Solar alone has 93 applications for projects in the county.
Anthon has suggested the county should be instituting some kind of standardized framework for solar power applications and on Thursday, Minden Hills councillors passed a motion to create a renewable energy task force committee, which will be responsible for creating such a framework for the Township of Minden Hills, as well as reviewing project proposals.
It will put out a public call for members.
Reeve Brent Devolin was in favour of the projects.
“The scale is small,” Devolin said, adding it wasn’t positive for the township to be categorically denying alternative energy projects.
Last month, council denied a support resolution for a proposed 87-acre solar farm near the Allsaw Flats. That proposal, originally for a 300-acre facility, came from Oakville’s Algonquin Power Company.
Councillor Lisa Schell noted that combined, the proposed projects would equal some 465 acres.
“I don’t see any significant benefit to the ratepayers of Minden Hills,” Schell said, adding that she had concerns about what would happen with the projects after the 20-year period the company was talking about.
Tunks had said the setups could be sold to the property owners at that time, and they could continue to operate them, profiting as much as $100,000 a year.
“Obviously, they’re not worth anything after 20 years,” Schell said, indicating that otherwise, the company wouldn’t lose interest.
“I don’t think anybody’s against solar, I don’t think anybody’s against renewables,” said Councillor Pam Sayne, who said she wanted to wait until the township formed its renewable energy task force committee and it had established a process. “I don’t want to be pushed before I have that information.”
Other council members were also reluctant.
“I‘d rather see five acres scattered all over the place than 85 acres,” said Councillor Jeanne Neville, adding, “we may wind up with thousands of them all over the place.”
Councillor Ron Nesbitt and Deputy-reeve Cheryl Murdoch said they were also uncomfortable with the support resolution at this time.
Council’s decision does not necessarily mean the projects will not proceed, but lessens the chances of the projects getting approval from the province.