Proposal will bring solar pilot project to Cranbrook

A Vancouver-based solar power company has proposed a solar pilot project for Cranbrook.

On the heels of the SunMine project work in Kimberley, the City of Cranbrook outlined a proposal that would bring a similar project to this city.

In August 2013, a Vancouver-based private solar power company, P2 Solar Inc, approached the city with a proposal for a similar, but smaller-scaled project to the one in Kimberley. The main difference being that while the $5.3 million project in Kimberley is dependent on grants and $2 million in municipal dept financing, the P2 Solar project proposal would be financed entirely by private investors.

CAO Wayne Staudt said the city and P2 Solar are working on a 25 year lease agreement for a vacant two-hectare parcel at the spray irrigation fields.

The pilot solar farm is projected to be in operation in spring 2015, and testing of some of the equipment in winter weather is being worked out with the airport.

Mayor Wayne Stetski was exited to see this project.

“Sunniest city in B.C… we talked about that a little bit and we’re finally starting to see some uptake on that particular concept,” Stetski said. “Having the solar plant associated with the city is going to be great, particularly since it doesn’t cost us anything. All of the financial investment comes from the company.”

CAO Wayne Staudt said the other potential positive would be that the city could tap into the electricity that will be produced out there and use it at the spray irrigation site.

“A significant cost at the spray irrigation is our electricity bill and we know that is going up as a result of hydro rates going up,” Staudt said. “So if this thing turns out to be a positive venture for P2 Solar, then we will be able to tie into this system and start using that electricity.”

Coun. Denise Pallesen said it will be exciting once the company gets up and running, but had concerns with the $5 annual lease fee that P2 Solar will be paying for the first 10 years.

“We don’t do that for anybody or any other business that I’m aware of. I’m a bit concerned, at $5 a year I have some real concerns about it.”

Staudt said the reason is that the company will likely not be generating any revenue itself in the next 10 years.

“They don’t know if there’s enough sunshine or anything else like that,” Staudt said. “They are making a major investment, I don’t know how large that investment is, but it’s a significant investment.”

Staudt said that land is not generating any revenue and because the land is located on a hillside it won’t be used for irrigation or agricultural purposes.

“So it’s not like we’re displacing existing revenue and giving it to them for $5 a year,” Staudt said. “Even the $5 a year is more than we’re getting currently.”

Mayor Stetski noted that if the company is successful after 10 years, the city will receive a minimum of five per cent of gross electrical revenues, which could amount to $10,000 a year, for the balance of the 25 year term. In addition, if the facility exceeds annual projections, the city will receive 25 per cent of those revenues that exceed projections.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” Stetski said.

Bob Whetham noted that he’s pleased the proposal is going forward.

“This is not a proven business, this is an exploratory activity as I understand it,” Whetham said. “I think it’s a little different from opening a well understood business in normal fashion.”

He said the city is in some respects partnering in an exploratory measure to see whether or not it is a practical thing to do.

 

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