Toronto-based renewable-energy developer SkyPower Corp., along with joint-venture partner SunEdison, formally announced the activation and grid connection today of a 9.1 megawatt solar park near the tiny Ontario town of Stone Mills. Their project, called First Light I, becomes the first multimegawatt-scale solar park in Canada to go live. Two more phases are in the works — First Light II and First Light III — which will add 7.8 MW and 10 MW, respectively.
First Light I takes up 90 acres, equivalent to 50 Canadian football fields (i.e. they’re larger than those pansy NFL fields). All three phases totalling about 26 MW will cover 290 acres and be composed of 130,000 solar panels. These projects are backed by 20-year power purchase contracts obtained under Ontario’s former Renewable-Energy Standard Offer Program, or RESOP. That means the companies can sell power from the projects into the Ontario grid at 42 cents (Canadian) per kilowatt-hour. And because it’s not under the new Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program, it doesn’t have to comply with new local content rules.
First Solar and EDF are in similar situations under the RESOP — 42 cents and no local content restrictions. EDF started construction in June of its 23.4 MW project in Arnprior, Ontario (near Ottawa), while First Solar (which acquired the Ontario project pipeline from OptiSolar earlier this year) has been busy in Sarnia with more than 10 megawatts already installed. Today, it was announced that natural gas and oil pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. of Calgary was purchasing 20 megawatts of First Solar’s Sarnia pipeline for something close to $100 million. Enbridge also indicated that it’s interested, potentially, in doing more deals with First Solar, which has about 80 MW of projects in Sarnia and more than 200 MW under contract across province with the Ontario Power Authority.
In other news, expect Samsung to build about 100 MW of solar in Ontario — potentially. The company, which has signed a “framework agreement” with the province of Ontario (whatever that means), appears ready to develop 500 megawatts worth of wind and solar in the province. The hint came this week, when Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman directed the power authority to “hold in reserve” 500 MW of transmission capacity for a certain “proponent” doing some business dealings with the government — i.e. Samsung. The government is giving Samsung the royal treatment because it has also indicated plans to manufacture wind and solar products in Ontario to meet its own and other developer demands.
Sounds good, unless you’re a developer being booted further back in the transmission-connection waiting queu. Expect some vocal pushback. (check out my Monday column for more on that).