News — 17 November 2009

The city’s technical partner in their efforts to establish a 5 MW solar park is recommending that the municipality take full ownership of the project.

A team of representatives from Johnson Controls Inc. were in Dryden last week to facilitate the city’s public open house  and provide an update to council on the project which is progressing quickly to take advantage of attractive provincial renewable power generation incentives.

While the City could pursue a partnership with a third-party, or outright third-party ownership of a solar park project, Johnson Controls’ Marc-Andre Lahaie says the city should recognize the many advantages and greater returns in forming a municipally-owned corporation to manage such a project.

“It gives more to the municipality,” said Lahaie. “Simply said, a municipality can borrow money for a lot cheaper than a private investor and see higher returns. For Dryden, it’s a lot better for them to own it and generate a cash-flow positive project.”

In their presentation to council, Johnson Controls projected that the estimate $29.3 million project could secure debt at interest rates of five to six per cent for 20 years. While still servicing debt, the project could generate over $250,000 per year. When paid for in 20 years, the project could see annual revenues in excess of $2 million.

Lahaie says Dryden is well positioned in both a physical and organizational sense to take advantage of Ontario’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program, and is working to submit its application by the end of November.

“There’s a lot of sunshine here, you have the perfect field for it, it’s 100 metres from the transmission station – everything is there to have a successful project,” said Lahaie.

– 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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