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Residents on board with green energy co-operative

BY SHANNON DUFF
THE MINTO EXPRESS

TOWN OF MINTO – Solar energy is clearly a hot topic in Minto.

Dozens of local residents attended an open house last Monday evening at the Harriston-Minto Community Complex to sign up for the Minto Green Energy Co-operative of Ontario.

The Town of Minto has applied to the provincial government for multiple solar projects. In order to receive highest priority within the system, Minto wishes to get the projects partly owned by a community co-operative, explained Rolph Maurer of project developer Sun Saver 2. Mauer was joined by Bill King, also of Sun Saver 2, and Kevin Epp, representing the Green Energy Co-op of Ontario.

Feed In Tariff applications will now be accepted during specific application windows, rather than an ongoing basis, and the Ontario Power Authority, as a first step, will award 200 MW of small FIT contracts. The program applications guidelines state:

• Applications will be prioritized with points awarded based on project type (community participation, Aboriginal participation, or public university, publicly funded school, public college, hospital or publicly-owned long-term care home participation or where they are a host), municipal support, Aboriginal support, project readiness and electricity system benefit;

• Applications greater than 50 per cent of equity participation from Aboriginal or community (co-ops) participants (contract capacity set-aside projects) will be prioritized above all other applications in an application window.

If enough folks participate in the co-operative, the end result will mean 51 per cent of the project revenue will be owned by the Minto co-operative, and 49 per cent of the income of the development will belong to the developer and the Town of Minto.

“They’re truly community projects,” Mauer told The Express Monday evening at the open house.

The proposed solar installations will be located at the sewage treatment plant at 43 James St. E in Clifford, the Palmerston road works yard outside Palmerston, the Greenbush ball field at 5576 Highway 9 near Harriston, the Minto municipal shed at 5941 Highway 89 near Harriston, the Palmerston arena at 520 Cavan St., the Harriston arena at 111 George St. and the Clifford arena at 2 Brown St.

To qualify as a local co-operative, a minimum of 50 people meeting land-ownership requirements must sign up. It’s completely voluntary and there is a one-time membership fee of $10. Once the project contract is granted, the Minto Green Energy Co-operative will proceed with some fundraising to help support it.

Mauren said about 80 people have applied to join the co-operative.

“I am confident we will reach our goal,” said Mauren. “It’s a very good turnout. The Town of Minto did an excellent job, it’s very much a commitment from the town to get people involved and share the income. To me, this is really what the Ontario government was intending, that not just a few of the developers get the income from the solar systems, that it really stays within the community.”

Gordon Duff of the Town of Minto said the turnout “shows there’s real support for renewable energy in Minto. We have to get our 50 members and I’m sure we’ll do that,” he said.

Attendees were enthusiastic and interested in learning more of the project details, he added.

“We’re all learning,” he said. “I think everybody is in favour of the concept and perhaps it might be a good investment down the road. We’re very pleased.”

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