Solar assessments are coming to some Perth buildings

Posted on: September 14, 2017

Sally Smith

Janice Ashworth, general manager of Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op (OREC), presented briefly at Perth Committee of the Whole on Tuesday about the possibility of OREC partnering with “local property owners to use their land or rooftops for community-owned renewable power projects (solar).”

One of Ashworth’s points was that as electricity prices go up (about nine per cent each year), the prices OREC can give will stay the same as the inflation rate, generally 2.5 per cent. Ashworth said, this is an “opportunity to engage residents through a co-operative structure.” She added that the solar opportunity keeps money in the community.

The roofs included in the scenario included the water treatment garage and the firehall; the pool and arena roofs are also suitable but shaded by trees making only a portion of the roofs useable. Ashworth  said OREC would look at bulk purchasing, that is partnering with other buildings in Perth like Algonquin College and Perth and District Collegiate Institute, to keep the price down.

Mayor Fenik asked who would own the panels; if there is initially a 30-year agreement, ownership of the panels would revert to the town at the end of the agreement, or the town could buy out its part earlier.

Councillor John Gemmell asked if the panels are transferable to a new building asked, to which Ashworth replied that they are. The wiring, however, is cut to size so “the cost is in the re-wiring.”

She explained to Councillor Riq Turner that even at year 30, the panels still retain 80 per cent of their initial output.

Councillor Jim Graff voiced concerns about a 30-year contract, asking if it could be less. Ashworth confirmed contracts could be re-evaluated after 10, 20 or 30 years.

Committee of the Whole unanimously passed a motion to have the building facilities assessed for solar potential. The motion will come to council Sept. 26. Mayor Fenik added that this would be discussed at the Mayor’s breakfast on Oct. 24.