News — 24 June 2009

City selects Johnson Controls as proponent for 10 MW photovoltaic park
The City of Dryden is moving ahead with plans to enter the renewable energy game.
Council convened at a special meeting, June 22, passing a resolution to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Johnson Controls, Inc. to proceed with the development of a 10 mega-watt (MW) photovoltaic energy project to be located in Hatch’s Field – adjacent to the Dryden Cemetery. The project is expected to occupy 100-150 acres and begin within 18-24 months.
Dryden Development Corporation’s Vicki Kurz says city staff and council heard presentations from three interested proponents in late May and unanimously chose to move forward with Johnson Controls, Inc.
“They’re not here to just slap up a solar farm,” said Kurz. “They’re interested in building an economic development portion around it.”
Kurz adds the city has the option to buy into the project and form a new revenue stream.
In order to take advantage of provincial incentives under the recently passed Green Energy Act, council is under the gun to get an agreement in place prior to the introduction of Ontario Power Authority’s Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program.
Hoping to spur renewable energy production in the province, OPA is offering 20-year contracts to purchase energy from renewable sources at very attractive rates. Among all other forms of renewable energy, photovoltaic (solar) projects will earn the highest rate of 44.3 cents per kilowatt hour.
An updated version of OPA’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program, the FIT program will lift the ‘orange zone’ designation that previously limited Northwest communities’ ability to participate in the program.
Dryden Development Corporation Renewable Energy Committee member and city councillor Mike Wood praised the efforts of Vicki Kurz and Dan McArthur in moving the project forward despite what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles.
“A colossal amount of work was done by Vicki and Dan,” said Wood. “I congratulate them for not saying ‘no’, getting past the ‘orange zone’ and bringing this project to the point where everyone can see the value in it.”
Mayor Anne Krassilowsky was also excited about the future prospects for the project and applauds the work of the committee.
“They’ve identified a goal that is very reachable for Dryden with a lot of hard work,” said Krassilowsky. “They’re on a really good course and taking this initial step is outstanding for our community.”
Chris Marchand

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Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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