Solar farm near Cornwall dump gets South Stormont nod

Share-A-Watt representatives John Barros and Sherra Zulerons listen to a question from a South Stormont councillor during their presentation July 15, 2015. The Burlington, Ont. based company wants to bid for a provincial contract to build a 10 megawatt solar farm in the township on Cornwall Centre Road, across from the Cornwall landfill. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

LONG SAULT – South Stormont has given a thumbs-up to a proposed solar farm right on the border with the City of Cornwall.

John Barros, Chief Development Officer, and Sherra Zulerons, Chief Executive Officer, of Burlington, Ont. based “Share-A-Watt” outlined their plans Wednesday night for a 10 megawatt solar farm.

It would be on the north side of Cornwall Centre Road, across the road from the city landfill site, east of the railway tracks. The project, called the Esdale Solar Park LP, would cover roughly 112 acres.

Barros explained the land is on a flood plain and, as such, is not suitable for commercial or residential construction. But it’s a perfect site for renewable energy.

The CDO added that the site is close for hooking up to the St. Lawrence hydro distribution system. “Because this is extremely close, this is extremely competitive,” Barros said.

Barros said he has met with City of Cornwall officials, including Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy, and they are supportive of the project.

South Stormont Coun. Donna Primeau questioned the company about the number of jobs the solar farm would create. CEO Zulerons said it would create about 400-500 short-term construction jobs and only a “handful” of long-term positions.

Council voted 4-1 to endorse the project with Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart being the lone vote in opposition.

“I am not a supporter of the Green Energy Act since 2009 and as I indicated…we are paying high hydro costs and, yet, less than two per cent of actual solar is being used. There is nothing practical about this and it’s costing taxpayers enormous amounts on their hydro bill,” Hart told Cornwall Newswatch.

“I’m very concerned about our local businesses as well as businesses across Ontario. Like they’ve stated several times we’ve lost over 300,000 in the last five years of manufacturing businesses and Chrysler just came out two days ago basically telling (Premier Kathleen) Wynne that they are unable to remain competitive because of high hydro costs,” Hart added.

Hart doesn’t buy the promises of jobs because “they’re all temporary.”

The endorsement from township council does not bind the municipality on approving the project, but gives the proponent a preferential score in the bidding process.

The company needs support from all affected municipalities and all neighbouring landowners for the project to succeed.

Share-A-Watt will be competing with companies across Ontario for 140 megawatts of available solar energy contracts based on calculations by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Share-A-Watt has until Sept. 1 to submit its application.

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