The City of Kimberley and Teck Metals Ltd. announced this week that they had signed a letter of intent for Teck to purchase the SunMine for the outstanding balance of the City’s loan, anticipated to be $2.05 million.
The City had been looking for a partner to purchase the SunMine for some time, as committing resources to expand the solar farm to 2 MW was not a top priority when there was so much other infrastructure work to fund.
For Teck, it’s an opportunity to learn more about solar power, as well as demonstrate the company’s commitment to climate action, said Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs in a press release.
“Teck’s investment in SunMine aligns with our commitment to climate action and our goal of supporting the development of alternative energy sources,” said Smith. “SunMine will provide us the opportunity to learn more about solar power and better understand its potential application at other Teck sites.”
Because the SunMine is considered a utility, the City cannot sell it without elector consent. As a municipal election is scheduled for this fall, putting the issue to referendum was seen as the best way to proceed.
A referendum information package will be made available, and an information meeting regarding the proposed sale of SunMine will be held on October 1st, 2018 at 7:00 pm in Council Chambers. The election, and referendum, will be held on October 20, 2018.
In November 2011, the City of Kimberley conducted a referendum on borrowing up to $2M to construct a two (2) megawatt solar facility to be known as SunMine. Seventy six percent (76%) of Kimberley’s resident electors voted in favour of borrowing the $2M.
In the 2011 referendum information package, the City stated that it “anticipates that this project will be self-sustaining and pay for itself through the sale of the solar-generated electricity to BC Hydro through their standing offer program. Since the revenue received from the sale of energy will more than cover the loan payments and the annual operating costs there will not be any increase to City of Kimberley property taxes.”
In the first three years of SunMine’s operation, more than $570K in revenue has been generated and $32K has been allocated to reserves for future maintenance and capital replacement. Although SunMine has been
financially self-sustaining for the first three years of operation, these costs are expected to increase. This could result in SunMine requiring subsidization from municipal taxation to cover future operational costs.
That’s not a situation Council desires, and Mayor Don McCormick says the sale is a good deal.
“I am very excited about finally being able to make this announcement,” he said. “Teck is the perfect partner for many reasons and this is another great example of Teck’s investment in Kimberley as a legacy community”.
McCormick said that the SunMine has won numerous awards and great positive PR for Kimberley.
“That’s not going to change. The SunMine will still be here, and with expansion, there will be even more positive news.”