June 6, 2013
Scugog has dropped its appeal against a solar power facility proposed for Greenbank and instead has hammered out an agreement that will see the Township retain some control over the project and reap considerable revenues.
Solray Energy Corporation initially proposed in November 2011 to build a 10-megawatt solar facility on lands at 725 Cragg Rd., which prompted Township officials to raise concerns about the loss of prime agricultural land.
However, under provincial rules, Scugog legally had little to no say in the matter as the Green Energy Act exempts such projects from land-use planning instruments such as official plans, zoning and site control.
“In other words,” wrote Don Gordon, Scugog’s director of community services, in a report, “the Green Energy Act specifically permits the development of solar farms on prime agricultural land or land that is not zoned for this use.”
A few weeks ago, on April 22, Scugog councillors directed staff to proceed with an appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal. That review was supposed to take place at the end of May, but on May 27 council authorized staff to reach an agreement with Solray and drop the appeal.
“It was determined that a concerted effort should be made to reach an agreement with Solray and achieve benefits for the community through negotiation rather than risk getting nothing by proceeding with the appeal,” wrote Mr. Gordon in a June 3 report to council.
As part of the agreement, Solray has agreed to allow Scugog to approve its grading and landscaping plans, truck routes and construction schedule. Solray has also pledged to reimburse the Township $5,000 each year for any equipment and training required for fire protection and prevention and has agreed to establish a liaison committee to deal with community concerns.
In return, Scugog will receive $100,000 in the first year of the project for capital projects in Greenbank, plus $50,000 annually for the next 19 years for environmental projects in the township.
Solray has also agreed to provide $250,000 for construction and decommissioning securities.
Mr. Gordon stressed to councillors on Monday night that Solray was “under no obligation” to enter into an agreement with the Township.
“They recognized the project was not popular in the community … and reached out with an offer of compensation,” said the director. “We got things we wouldn’t have if we went through with the appeal process.”
“Our leverage was that we were reasonable,” added Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier. “None of these (gains) were unreasonable. They were practical.”
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