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Cornwall NewsWatch, June 18, 2015

MORRISBURG – A proposed ground-based solar farm has South Dundas revisiting whether it’s not a willing host for green energy.

Solar company SunEdison has approached the municipality asking for support for a solar farm at 4278 County Road 1, south of Glen Stewart, on a private piece of land.

The company is hoping to get municipal support in order to receive preferential scoring when applying to the province’s Feed In Tariff (FIT) program.

South Dundas council heard Tuesday night the proposed site, which could be anywhere from four to 10 acres, is not farmable land.

“That same footprint, the top soil was stripped in 1997,” Planner Don Lewis told council.

“I have no problem with it…it’s a business proposition,” Deputy Mayor Jim Locke said.

But Locke used the moment to chastise the province and its electrical regulators.

“Hydro One, IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) and the provincial government have done a terrible job of informing the public on what’s going on with electricity production in this province,” Locke stated.

“I have no problem with the individual doing what they want with their land,” Coun. Archie Mellan said. “I just think we should clarify whether we’re a willing host for these programs…before we go farther or endorse or reject this proposal.”

Piggybacking off comments from Coun. Mellan and Coun. Marc St. Pierre, Mayor Evonne Delegarde also expressed concerns with endorsing a green energy project.

“I did pull out the (not a willing host) resolution once again. I know we only pertain to the wind but I think the solar is in the same ball park,” Delegarde said.

South Dundas committed to being a non-willing host, specifically pertaining to wind power, in October 2013.

While South Dundas has approved a number of roof-top solar units on a site-by-site basis, this would be the first ground-mounted solar farm in the municipality.

“We did the rooftop site by site but that’s a lot smaller project that you would even think about in this case or in a wind project basis. So, I don’t support going forward with this,” the mayor said.

While Delegarde recognizes the Green Energy Act, she doesn’t want to support anything that “would encourage the provincial government to add extra burden on Ontarians.”

A report on the non-willing host will be back at council in two weeks.

WEBSITE EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, if the province had ever done a cost-benefit study for its renewable power program, municipal officials wouldn’t be tossing around advantages and disadvantages in the dark—with electricity bills rising every six months and the economic impact of expensive, intermittent renewables more apparent than ever, Ontario wouldn’t want to do a cost-benefit study NOW.