Scugog solar project finds common ground

June 13, 2013

Cooler heads and a focus on achievement has helped avoid a nasty and potentially costly legal appeal for Scugog over a proposed solar farm in Greenbank.

The dispute over a 10-megawatt solar farm on Cragg Road proposed in 2011 pitted Scugog against the proponent, Solray Energy Corporation, proposing the development under provisions of the provincial government’s Green Energy Act. Scugog opposed the potential loss of prime farmland on the proposed site, but learned that it had little say under the provincial legislation set out to promote solar and wind energy in Ontario.

Consequently, officials directed staff to launch an appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal and had a May day set to hear the appeal before politicians and the proponent decided instead to seek common ground.

Thank goodness for that.

To the credit of both Solray and Scugog officials, each party realized that seeking compromise and mutually agreeable terms were far more beneficial to everyone involved — not least of which are Scugog’s taxpayers — and would avoid the unnecessary time, conflict and cost of a potentially lengthy tribunal hearing.

The outcome is one that serves the interests of Solray, which will pursue its business case and profits, and Scugog, which will see annual compensation from Solray, along with a measure of control over landscaping and grading issues at the solar farm site.

This is a perfect example of leadership and recognizing that sometimes the best way to win an argument is to avoid it altogether.

Solray officials, too, recognized that there was more to be gained in negotiation than in an adversarial setting such as a tribunal. The proposal wasn’t popular in the community, as noted by Don Gordon, Scugog’s director of community services, so it was practical for the company to find common ground with Scugog officials.

The result is a proverbial win-win for each side in the dispute, in the parlance of boardrooms everywhere.

Only time will tell if Ontario’s nascent green energy sector that gave rise to solar projects such as this will become an economic force in province. Here at home, however, the deal will allow Solray to test its business case while Scugog residents will benefit from the project to the extent that this deal allows.

Congratulations are due on both sides.

 

Source: Port Perry Star via. www.durhamregion.com

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