Solar Energy Projects in Countryside

 Updated August 12, 2015

At 6:30pm on August 20, 2015 the Rural Advisory Committee will conduct a Public Meeting at Fairmount Home in order to hear presentations from the developers behind some of the proposed solar energy centres located in Kingston and across Countryside.  I encourage residents from across Kingston to attend and learn more about renewable energy proposals that affect our community.  For more information, and the official notice of Public Meeting, click here.

The agenda and staff reports associated with this meeting will be available on August 14 from the City of Kingston website.  You will be able to find that information by clicking here.  If you have comments, concerns or letters of support that you would like to communicate to the committee, you may do so by emailing the committee clerk, Ms. Blumenberg:

A few days ago, the London Free Press produced an article that provides an informative, broad background to the current bid process we face with a provincial context:
 Province Puts Heat on Big Solar - London Free Press, August 10

Local media discussion on Solar Projects:

Race is on for Solar Projects - The Whig Standard, August 12
South Frontenac witholds its Blessings on Solar...
- Kingston Region, August 6
Mountain Bikers Fear Losing Trail - The Whig Standard, July 31
 Solar Development Must Be Responsible, Says Councillor - Station 14 News, July 27
 Green Energy Best Option for Clean Future - The Whig Standard, July 20
 Storm Brewing Over Solar Proposal - Station 14 News, July 8
 Group Opposes Solar Project - The Whig Standard, July 7
 Bright Idea: City Looks to Make Money from Old Landfill Site - Kingston Region, June 25

This has been a discussion that has rightly sparked skepticism and a critical view of the current industrial approach to renewable energy generation taken by the province.   Several citizens have sent me letters of opposition or support to various projects - but Tom and Wendy Greenlaw have gone one step further, and asked me to post a copy of their letter online.  You can read it here.  Many of the questions asked in this letter are difficult to answer this early in the process, but I will be providing some basic answers shortly.

Original Post from July 20, 2015: 

I am sure by now, you have heard about some of the proposed Solar Energy developments in Countryside.  These proposals span our district from east to west, as there are proposals in almost every community in rural Kingston.  Renewable energy development is an important part of a sustainable future, but it is also so new and we haven't yet found the perfect balance for communities across Ontario.  

The key word here is "proposed," as these are the result of a competitive application process hosted by the Independent Electrical System Operator (IESO), an organization that delivers the mandates of the Ontario Power Authority.  These proposals are competing with each other and with other projects from across Ontario for a limited amount of input to the grid.  The IESO has identified approximately 140 MegaWatts of electricity to be procured through this process, province-wide.  As this is the case, it is highly unlikely that every proposal in the Kingston area will be approved.

Below are the proposals that the City of Kingston is aware of:
(Note: MW are estimated, not final numbers)

Saturn Power - Middle Road Proposal (10MW)
RES Canada - Cataraqui Ridge Proposal (35 MW)
Hydromega - Kingston Perth (19MW - No Info Available)
NextEra Energy - Westbrook/Cordukes & Battersea Proposals (40MW)

Compass Energy/Bondfield - Unity Rd Proposal (25 MW)
Sky Power - Unity Road west of 38 Proposals (51 MW - see links below)

Important aspects of the application include:

  • A community engagement plan, posted online, to be completed by the September 1st deadline
  • At least one (1) community meeting
  • Notice delivered to the door of all community members within 120m of the proposed project.
  • Preliminary studies demonstrating the appropriateness of the proposed site, including information about wetlands, woodlands, local developments, transportation routes, and agricultural significance.

It is important to keep in mind that land identified as class 1, 2 or 3 Prime Agricultural is not to be developed under this process, with the goal of protecting our best farmland.   In the case of some of our local proposals, some of the proposed land is currently part of a working farm, but not identified as Prime Agricultural.  This is a difficult consideration when balancing the priorities of clean energy development and local agriculture.  

Earlier this summer, City Council approved the recommended municipal process from staff .  The City of Kingston has identified its process to engage the developers in securing municipal agreements that may bring additional benefits and protection to the community.  One of these benefits include the establishment of Community Vibrancy Funds, where revenues are generated from the project for investment into the community.  Another agreement is associated with site design, and another possible agreement would include responsibility for road maintenance during the construction period.

Project proposals get a boost in their application with a supportive resolution from municipal council.  The Rural Advisory Committee will provide advice to council on which projects should receive an endorsement.  This committee experience when considering rural solar development as several members heard from citizens and established guidelines for the huge Samsung project on the western edge of Countryside.  

The Rural Advisory Committee will meet at 6:30pm on August 20, 2015 in the auditorium at Fairmount Home, located at 2069 Battersea Rd for the purpose of considering these proposals.  If you have comments, recommendations, or concerns you would like to share with the committee, please send them through the committee clerk, Ms. Blumenberg: 

I will continue to update this post with relevant information as I receive it, and I appreciate any communication or consideration when it comes to evaluating Solar developments and ensuring our communities actually benefit from development.

All the best,