During the Investment and Economic Prosperity Committee meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 25), staff presented a report on the strategy around employing solar photo-voltaic systems on the rooftops of municipally owned buildings. The committee supported moving forward with submissions around the 19 buildings identified by staff as being viable for the project, but councillors also pushed to know what the city’s long-term strategy is.
“Are we just simply buying solar equipment? Is that all we are doing? Or are we trying to develop a solar industry in London?” said prosperity committee chair and Ward 3 Councillor Joe Swan. “We, as a community, can’t afford to do incremental, piecemeal projects.”
Jay Stanford, director of environmental programs and solid waste, said recent changes in provincial legislation have forced staff to work towards the Oct. 1 opening of the province’s Small Fit program. That program includes projects that generate 10 kilowatts up to 500 kilowatts, of which rooftop solar equipment is a prime example.
“We have a situation where province-wide there is likely six times the number of applications representing the capacity people want to put on the grid versus what will be available,” Stanford said. “This will be a highly competitive marketplace. So there is a chance none of the applications from London will be accepted.”
Swan said he understands how staff has been forced to work on meeting the Small Fit window, but that the long-term goal of the city is to develop a solar industry in London.
“I get the project by project, you can identify them, but do we have an effective energy strategy that has many components to it that would fit into the strategy?” Swan said. ““What I am hearing today is that we would like to buy some solar panels and drop them off on the rooftops of the city. Those two messages, in my humble estimation, are not the same.”
Stanford said the city doesn’t have a strategy as Swan defined it. There are, however, components of it that Stanford said are under development right now.
Part of the city’s requirement as a municipality, Stanford, is that by June 2013, under the Green Energy Act, it must deliver a corporate energy strategy.
With that in mind, Stanford said staff — along with the city’s energy partner Ameresco Canada — will work towards having a strategy to bring before councillors by April 2013.
“That will be the timing. There is so much evolution going on in this field . . . to this date we haven’t been able to nail down a complete strategy. But we are very close,” Stanford said. “City staff is developing the strategy. The complete package has to be submitted by June, so basically by spring we will be bringing something back.”
Mayor Joe Fontana said he thought Swan’s point around an energy strategy was a good one. Like Swan, Fontana said individual projects must be put in context with council’s goal of making London a green energy leader.
“I thought I heard Coun. Swan put forward a very good question. To put these projects within the context of an energy plan, which still has not been completed,” Fontana said. “And to see how, if the city as I want it to be seen becomes a leader in green, we are looking at renewable energy.”
Fontana also pointed to the efforts of the Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council, which he said has done “a lot of work in a number of areas,” such as how the city can conserve and how it can generate new power from various sources.
One of those sources, Fontana said, will hopefully be through the rooftop solar project.
“In this instance we want to use our buildings, in conjunction with our partner, to make some money. But we needed to move quickly,” Fontana said. “London can be a leader, but if you are going to be a leader, you need to have something on your own roofs so we can say we are doing it ourselves.”
Article Source: www.londoncommunitynews.com
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