Highlands East council seeks solar solution 0
QMI Agency File
Highlands East will be developing a protocol for dealing with solar project applications.
In a 3-2 vote at an Aug. 14 meeting, councillors had passed a motion in favour of solar projects in the municipality, as requested by Renewable Environmental Energy Services, a company that had applied to erect a solar power set up under the Ontario Power Authority’s feed-in-tariff program.
The regulations of the program were changed in April, allowing room for municipal support of projects. A motion of support gains projects extra points with the OPA.
“All of the lower tiers are having some challenges with this,” said Reeve Dave Burton.
One of the program’s regulations is that projects larger than 10 kilowatts not be located on a residentially zoned property or even next to a residentially zoned property, regardless of the size of the property.
“It’s not that we don’t support solar,” said Councillor Cec Ryall, who added people needed to meet program requirements.
Councillor Joan Barton said she wanted to see a protocol requiring applicants to give deputations explaining their application, sharing background information about themselves as well as going over project site plans.
Barton also wanted public open houses as a requirement.
Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge noted that council does not have the power to approve or stop projects, just to give motions of support.
“We cannot prevent people from putting up solar projects,” she said.
The the drafting of a protocol was referred to staff.
In Minden Hills, councillors have resolved not to receive any more FIT applications until the province fixes its legislation.
Minden Hills planning consultant Heather Sadler is a member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and said recently she and her colleagues are lobbying the province to change the regulations, which she believes were created with the GTA in mind.