The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op has managed to revive two out of four community solar projects that were cancelled when the Ford government in Ontario summarily trashed hundreds of project agreements with renewable energy producers across the province.
The 250-kilowatt project on École Secondaire Catholique Paul-Desmarais in the Ottawa suburb of Stittsville and the 400-kW installation on Collège Catholique Mer Bleue in Orleans are back in business, after OREC and a local school board agreed to complete them without provincial support.
“When the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) issued cancellation notices to 758 renewable project contracts, it was a blow to the momentum that the co-op’s members, supporters, and staff had been working to create,” writes Communications Manager Aaron Thornell. “Today, however, the co-operative can claim a victory for community-financed solar in Eastern Ontario.”
While the co-op and the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) are still finalizing details, Thornell says the project will actually gain flexibility with the province out of the picture. “No longer constrained by these contracts,” he notes, “the co-operative and CECCE could increase or decrease the capacity of these projects, depending on roof space and grid capacity in the areas where both schools are located, among other factors.”
The bigger-picture news, he adds, is that there’s life for community solar in spite of a hostile provincial government.
“Many were concerned that with the cancellation of so many renewable energy projects, along with the end of the [provincial] Green Energy Act, the future of renewable energy in Ontario was grim. These projects tell a different story. The reality is that solar power projects can now produce electricity at parity with grid rates, and the situation is due to improve as the cost of solar and storage technology continues to fall.”