Council agrees to go for the green;

The Belleville Intelligencer: W. BRICE MCVICAR - July 27, 2010

City council has unanimously agreed to go for the green.

With no comments, questions or concerns expressed, council quietly approved a motion to enter into a contract with the Ontario Power Authority to sell hydro that will be generated through a $5 million solar farm to be erected on the roof of the Quinte Sports Centre.

The resolution was passed during Monday's meeting.

In his written report to council, property manager Joel Carr Braint explained the feed in tariff (FIT) program will pay the municipality 63.5 cents per kilowatt hour. That equals a potential of $451,000 per year.

"This project is expected to cost approximately $5 million, therefore this would equate to an 11 year payback," the report states. "With an expected solar panel lifespan of 25 years or more we will continue to receive this amount throughout the 20 year contract and possible thereafter."

Mayor Neil Ellis said he was not surprised to see council endorse the contract as it is a "win-win" for the city.

"There's three things with this as, obviously, there's green energy and it's great to be a leader with one of the largest projects rewarded to date and then, second of all, it'll turn a profit and then, lastly, there's the green energy aspect," he said.

The mayor said though the initial estimate pegs the project at $5 million it could be less as the cost of solar projects has dropped since the city first applied for the solar farm late last year. That reduction could save the city construction costs and lessen the amount of time it will take the municipality to pay off the work, he said.

Just how the $5 million project will be funded has yet to be decided, Ellis said.

"It can be financed different ways. Do we do it through gas tax or do we borrow the whole money? With the business plan of borrowing you'd be able to pay it back and still have a return of 15 to 20 per cent on your investment."

Due to the current expansion of the Quinte Sports Centre it will likely be a year before any construction begins on the solar farm, the mayor said. He said his understanding is the majority of the solar panels will be placed on the older portion of the building.

That construction won't likely take place until the fall of 2011or early 2012.