| Sep 17, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - September 17, 2009Central Frontenac CouncilBy Jeff Green

Solar power generation on township buildings

Central Frontenac Council made good on a commitment it made to local contractor Glen Moase that they would listen to a presentation from Jan Vander Woerd from Arise Technologies about the possibility of outfitting township buildings for solar power generation.

Vander Woerd described Arise Technologies as a company that has three businesses: “a silicon production business, which is in development; a solar cell manufacturing business based in Germany; and a company that builds and installs grid-tie in systems in Canada and elsewhere.”

He said that in Germany there are over 100,000 individuals who have installed solar panels to produce energy that feeds back into the electrical grid (grid tie-in systems).

“Solar-powered generation is not economically viable, so why would 100,000 in Germany put in systems?” he asked. “The reason is the fact that solar receives a subsidy in Germany. Power costs 22 to 25 cents per kilowatt hour from the grid, but the people who generate solar from small systems are paid over 70 cents per kilowatt hour.”

According to Vander Woerd, Ontario will be announcing an even more advantageous scheme in the coming weeks. “Ontario will likely be the most aggressively funded program in the world, paying 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour for systems under 10 kilowatts and over 70 cents for 10-250 kw systems,” he said.

He estimated the cost of solar systems at about $10,000 per kilowatt and said the provincial program is designed for a 10-year payback on investments in rooftop solar, while the subsidised price to be paid for solar power will be guaranteed for 20 years.

The price for this subsidy will not be paid by taxation; it will be included in the price of power, according to Vander Woerd. “So those who do not participate in this program will end up paying for those who participate through higher electricity costs. That’s what happened in Germany,” he said.

After the presentation, Councilor Frances Smith rebuffed Mayor Gutowski’s proposal that staff keep council apprised of new opportunities and regulations as they come on stream.

“I think we need to go a step further,” Smith said, “We need to move forward to look at the costing of a 10 kilowatt solar panel. If we don’t get in on it early we will be lost in the megawatt proposals that will come forward from larger players. It would be nice to see some revenue from some other source than taxpayers’ pockets.”

Some councilors wanted to consider other power sources as well, including wind and small hydro projects, but in the end they all agreed to look at solar alone for now. 

OFFICE EXPANSION – Thirteen contractors picked up request for proposal packages to build an addition to the township office but no proposals were delivered back by the bid deadline. Township Chief Administrator John Duchene said he contacted several of the contractors who picked up packages and they told him that the timelines were too tight, both for preparing proposals and for completing the project. The bid deadline has been extended to September 25, and the construction deadline to June of next year. Duchene expects that the township will now receive several proposals.

MULTI-USE CENTRE – Councilor Frances Smith proposed that council establish an ad-hoc committee to work with staff and a facilitator to “start putting together a project.”

“I suggest you bring a proposal to the next meeting,” said Mayor Janet Gutowski.

“It doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure this out, it’s pretty simple. The committee needs terms of reference for sure, but it is time to start getting some public input and put a project together. If we slow things down, we’ll get to the election year next year and the whole thing could be squashed,” Smith said.

“We need more cultural planning. We will need a consultant,” said Mayor Gutowski.

“The only thing I know is that if you get a consultant before the community gets together to develop a vision, you end up with the consultant’s vision and not the community’s,” said Smith.

The proposal to establish a committee was approved.

BRIDGENS ISLAND SUBDIVISION – Council accepted a report from Planning Consultant Glenn Tunnock and is forwarding a proposal to Frontenac County that a 14-lot subdivision be established on Bridgens Island to make the existing, long-standing arrangement of seasonal cottages on the island compliant with the municipal act, and allow the four lot owners who do not have buildings on the property to construct summer cottages.

The matter will be referred to the county’s planning consultant.

SALT SHED APPROVED – Public Works Manager Mike Richardson proposed that the township consider moving the works yard and proposed salt/sand dome from the Olden Park site next to the township’s largest dump site, to a location near Mountain Grove adjacent to the new fire hall on Mill Road.

Richardson argued, in a written report, that the existing facility “will continue to face environmental issues such as leachate, off-gassing from decomposition of water materials and unwanted wildlife (i.e. bears) … is continued development at this site an appropriate strategy for the property?

Councilor Norman Guntensperger said, “I have concerns about moving the public works yard to the location next to the fire hall. It is much too close to the built up area. I would prefer to see the ball diamond move down there instead.”

Councilor John Purdon agreed with Guntensperger.

With the proposal to move the garage and salt dome being opposed by the two Olden District councilors, Richardson then said the salt dome should be located near the existing garage, as had previously been proposed.

Council accepted a tender from Crains’ Construction to build a salt shed for $460,000. The shed will be a Coverall shed, similar to the one that was built on Road 38 at the Hinchinbrooke garage by Crains’. Crains’ bid was the lowest of five received by the township, $40,000 lower than the next lowest.

TOWNSHIP REPAIRS WINDSHIELDS – Mike Richardson informed council that in light of complaints by motorists using Long Lake Road during its recent construction, the township entered into agreements with windshield repair shops in Perth and Kingston to repair pitted windshields.

“The circumstances of the construction made the township responsible for the damage,” Richardson said. In cases where the windshields needed replacing, the township paid half the cost.

The driving conditions on the road have now improved.

“We haven’t received any complaints for last week or this week, and I don’t think we would cover them any more,” Richardson said.

COUNCIL DEBATES CODE OF CONDUCT - A long debate over the contents of a proposed code of conduct for members of council, which is something the province is asking that all municipalities develop, got bogged down in concerns about the right of councilors to express opinions to the public and the media, among other things. The code will be vetted by staff and the wording altered before it is brought back to council.

DE-AMALGAMATION - Commenting on the de-amalgamation request from North Frontenac Township to Premier McGuinty, Deputy Mayor Gary Smith said “It’s a sad state of affairs that we’ve come to this. I don’t think it’s something that should be ignored or dismissed.” 

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