Mayor Don McCormick says that Kimberley would welcome another solar farm in the area.
As reported in the Daily Bulletin on Tuesday, September 8, a proposal has been referred to the Regional District of East Kootenay in late August from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, involving a crown land application for an investigative license to assess the potential for a solar farm.
The application covers 300 hectares and is roughly located beyond a gravel pit adjacent to the St. Mary’s River in-between Cranbrook and Fort Steele. The vision is to have three separate areas capturing sunlight on the property.
As far as solar energy goes, the more the merrier, says McCormick.
“I think it’s really good to see another company interested,” he said. “Critical mass is an important element of success. A stand alone is a tough slug for any business. When you get clustering, you end up with efficiencies in marketing, in sharing information.”
It would not be a direct competition between Kimberley’s Sun Mine and this new solar farm, in any case, the Mayor says.
First of all solar energy is unlimited in the sense that it’s there for anyone to use. And secondly, BC Hydro controls how much they will allow to be sold back into the grid.
“Because we are both selling back to the grid, you are essentially not competing,” McCormick said.
The proponents—Node Engineering Corporation—are estimating as much as 45 megawatts of electricity can be produced and connected to a nearby B.C. Hydro substation.
McCormick thinks that goal may be a little lofty.
“It took us six years to get a 1 megawatt. BC Hydro determines what they will buy. Our license is for 2 megawatts, so we can produce that much, but we would have to double the size.”
Currently, the Cranbrook proposal is only at an investigative stage and, following RDEK board approval on Friday, the proponents are allowed to install a small weather station to collect weather information.
And that will take a while, McCormick says.
“When you’re dealing with weather you really need to take a long term look. You need to look at your data on at least a fully year basis. For instance, August would be normally be a very good month but this year with all the smoke, we lost 20 per cent of our potential power.”
With files from Trevor Crawley