City arenas, community centres get solar panels
In this Monday, October 4, 2010 file photo, Al Monaco, Enbridge Executive Vice President, Major Projects and Green Energy (from left to right), the Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario Energy Minister, Maria Van Bommell, MPP, and Frank De Rosa, Senior Vice President of Project Development, North America, celebrate the grand opening of the Sarnia Solar Project in Sarnia, Ontario. MARKETWIRE PHOTO/Enbridge Inc.
Published Wednesday, September 12, 2012 9:22PM EDT
TORONTO -- Toronto now has a new reason to hope for sunny skies.
A joint project has been launched between the city and Toronto Hydro that will see 8,800 solar panels installed atop 10 city-owned arenas and community centres.
The panels will generate about 2,600 megawatt hours of electricity annually for the next 20 years -- enough to power roughly 215 households.
The initiative is expected to bring in $16 million through a contract with the Ontario Power Authority that allows the city to sell the solar-generated power.
The city also predicts the solar program will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by about 480 tonnes every year.
More than a dozen cities and towns across Ontario are planning or implementing similar solar projects.
A near-identical program in Belleville, Ont., has exceeded its projected annual revenue in only nine months, prompting city council to approve two additional solar panel locations on Monday.
"It's not only good for the community and the carbon footprint, but it's also a revenue source," said Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis.
Ellis expects his city's solar revenue to approach $1 million annually with the addition of the new locations.
Like Toronto, Belleville has a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority. After the contract expires, the electricity generated by the panels will power the individual buildings.
The municipal solar projects mark the cities' entrance into a sector typically dominated by private companies.
"By far, most of the rooftop and solar installations that are being developed are by private developers on privately-owned buildings," said Rob Maxwell, manager of the Toronto Renewable Energy Office.
The panels being installed in Toronto will have an average lifespan of about 25 years, said Maxwell, after which they can be salvaged to offset an already "marginal" removal cost.
Panel installations at Mimico Arena in Toronto's west end, York Mills Arena in the city's north and Goulding Community Centre west of the downtown began earlier this week. Construction will begin at the seven remaining locations through the fall.
The City of Toronto will submit applications for additional solar panel locations in October.
A response from the Ontario Power Authority is expected in early 2013.