Solar projects get go-ahead 0
Solar projects in Highlands East have been given the thumbs up by council, but not all members are putting their support behind the renewable energy source.
During a delegation that turned hostile at their Aug. 14 meeting, council voted three to two in favour of solar projects in Highlands East.
Kyle Rees, president and chief executive officer of Solar Power Products, a company based out of Woodbridge, visited council back in July asking for a resolution from the municipality in support of their projects.
The support of council was necessary for the microFIT program, administered through the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), explained Rees.
During a July 24 meeting of council, members had voted against such a resolution, saying they didn’t have enough information to pass it.
Rees, along with fellow company representative Renee Schmidlechner, returned to council chambers to once again seek the municipality’s support.
“A council resolution is almost a requirement with the OPA,” said Rees.
Rees stressed timing was of the essence in terms of securing support and that other municipalities had passed resolutions in favour of the projects.
“I thought you folks were supporters of renewable energy,” said Rees.
Councillor Joan Barton said what the company was asking for was a “special blessing from council.”
“I can’t do that when I don’t know how the neighbours of these projects feel,” she said.
In order to be approved, the projects had to adhere to guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Environment and the OPA, such as setback regulations, said Rees.
“It’s not a requirement for us to go to the neighbours, we’re not going to go back and lobby the neighbours. We don’t think it’s a necessary step,” said Rees.
“In your world it’s not a necessary step, in our world it is,” said Councillor Cecil Ryall.
Rees suggested the municipality pass a blanket resolution approving all solar projects in Highlands East.
Councillor Steve Kauffeldt questioned if this would result in illegal solar projects popping up.
“New guidelines and rules prevent projects like that. The government legislates what we can do,” said Rees.
Other members of council were supportive of the projects and their benefit to the area.
“I think this is a wonderful initiative for the people in Highlands East. I’m really in favour of the municipality supporting projects of this nature,” said Partridge.
Barton inquired if the company could present more information, such as site plans of the projects and the neighbours concerns before a resolution was passed.
“You knew what our concerns were a month ago, why didn’t you bring these things to us?” she asked.
With no official site plans on file, Rees said he could create sketches for the municipality, which could potentially change.
“So you’re saying you’ll give me what I want to shut me up and then change it later?” asked Barton.
“I guess that’s what you’re saying,” said Rees.
A resolution to support solar projects in Highlands East was brought forth by Partridge and seconded by Reeve Dave Burton, after no other councillor would second it.
Burton requested a recorded vote, where Partridge and Kauffeldt voted in favour, while Ryall and Barton voted against it.
Burton voted in favour, carrying the resolution.