Building Community Power CO-OPperatively: A Renewable Energy Summit

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

City powers its treasury with big new solar project

1,400-panel plan will feed energy to grid

The city has given the go-ahead for solar panels to be installed on the central Hamilton building which houses its operations centre.

The city has signed an agreement with Horizon Energy Solutions to allow the company to install a 1,400-panel, 250-kilowatt solar power system on top of 330 Wentworth St. N., which is north of Barton Street East.

Horizon Energy is a local developer of renewable energy projects that is 79.9 per cent owned by the City of Hamilton. It will be a tenant of 330 Wentworth.

Horizon will pay rent to the city, which is expected to generate $250,000 over the course of 20 years. The city will also be paid dividends, but Horizon will not reveal its revenue projections for competitive reasons.

The project will use about 50,000 square feet on the building's 250,000-square-foot roof, said Tom Chessman, manager of energy initiatives for the City of Hamilton.

He said the panels will most likely be installed next spring.

The Wentworth site was chosen because of its location, structural stability, and how it is situated, said Horizon Energy vice-president Scott Knapman.

Horizon is responsible for the installation and operation of the panels.

“We install these systems and then the power we produce off them, we sell back to the Ontario Government under the Feed-in-Tariff program,” Knapman explained.

The Feed-in-Tariff program from Ontario Power Authority was introduced in 2009 by the Green Energy and Green Economy Act as a way to reduce coal-fired electricity and boost the renewable energy business.

According to Horizon Energy's annual report for 2012, last year the city reaped more than $8.9 million in dividends from the company, said Sheri Ojero, spokesperson for Horizon Utilities Corporation, sister company to Horizon Energy Solutions.

Revenue from the Wentworth project rent will go to the energy reserve fund, which pays for salaries for the city's office of energy initiatives.

The office pursues projects and initiatives that save the city money on its energy costs, Chessman explained.

The city's energy initiatives webpage says projects and initiatives in Hamilton's corporate facilities have saved taxpayers $23 million since 2006.

905-526-3390 | @stephatthespec

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