While Mayor Don McCormick is convinced that there is a real future for solar energy in this region, for that industry to prosper, there must be a customer for the energy produced. In BC, that customer is BC Hydro through the Standing Offer Program (SOP). The City of Kimberley sells power generated at the SunMine through that program, but so far has been unable to get any traction from BC Hydro or the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to expand the SOP.
As McCormick stated in his report from the UBCM after meeting with the Minister, “The Minister was not very receptive, stating that BC Hydro had many other issues to be resolved.”
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In his report to Council on the SunMine’s third quarter performance, City CAO Scott Sommerville expanded on that, saying “The City was told it should be content with the opportunity to fulfill the Electrical Purchase Agreement (EPA) for a second MW. BC Hydro has not immediate plans to re-open the SOP to acquire more renewable energy.”
Meanwhile, the SunMine continues to produce power, and revenue, for the City, despite ups and downs such as smoke and breakdowns.
In July 2017, revenue was $28,747 from 280.1 MWh.
In August 2017, revenue was $23,270 from 212.7 MWh.
In September 2017, revenue was $15,733 from 137 MWh.
Year to date revenue (Jan to Sept 2017) is $163,235 on 1558.8 MWh. That represents 77.7 per cent of anticipated revenue of $210,015 for 2017, with one quarter to go.
Somerville reported that July production was well above expectations, but September was well below. This, he said, could be due to smoke from the forest fires as well as some problems with a faulty breaker. Rates climb in the third quarter as BC Hydro’s hydroelectric generation slows down.
The fault breaker affected 25 per cent of the production from the SunMine. The problem was that the breaker did not signal an alarm and was ‘tripping’ at 280 amps though rated for 400 amps, Sommerville explained in his report. The breaker has been replaced with most of the maintenance work bering done by city electricians.
And will goods and services at $17,829 and electricians wages at $16,510 are over budget, year to date operational expenses are at 63 per cent of the budget.