British Columbia

City of Kimberley seeks investors to expand SunMine solar project

The City of Kimberley is home to the province's largest solar project. Mayor Don McCormick is asking for investors to help SunMine expand from one megawatt to 15.

A $25M investment could enable the SunMine solar project to power a planned business park, says Mayor

The SunMine solar project in the City of Kimberley is the largest in the province. It can currently power approximately 200 homes, but the city is seeking investors to increase the scale of the project and the amount of power it generates. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Bright days could be ahead for the City of Kimberley if they succeed in securing an investor to expand their SunMine solar project.

SunMine, located just outside the city at the former Sullivan Mine site, is the province's largest solar project. It currently produces one megawatt of power, enough to power approximately 200 homes. 

The city is now seeking investors to take the project to the next level- ideally 15 megawatts or more.

"We need to expand to something that will enable us to power a business park that we are planning, among other things,' Mayor Don McCormick told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.

McCormick said 15 megawatts is the minimal size necessary for SunMine to be commercially viable over the long haul, but added that the site has enough room to go in excess of 100 megawatts.

"The whole reason we did this pilot was to provide a proof source that the technology works," explained McCormick, adding that the project has proven to be both an operational and promotional success in its first year.

Investors show interest

Two investment offers have already been proposed, but neither were large enough to launch SunMine into its next phase of development.

The mayor is optimistic that these two offers mean it is only a matter of time until the right investor comes along.

There are no guarantees, but the return on investment can be outstanding because electricity is a commodity that commands a good market price, said McCormick.

SunMine is located on land owned by Teck Resources, who invested two million in the project. According to McCormick, existing infrastructure from the old mine helps reduce costs.

City has done the 'heavy lifting'

The city has "already done a fair amount of heavy lifting," said McCormick, but it is not the mandate of the city to get involved in private sector enterprise. For this reason, McCormick is hoping an investor will step in and help Kimberley shine.

No deadline has been set for investor proposals, but McCormick stressed the ideal investor is someone who is already in the alternate-resource business. 

And someone who has a rainy day fund of 20 to 25 million dollars to invest in sunshine.

With files from Daybreak South

For the complete interview with Mayor Don McCormick, click on the audio labelled, City of Kimberley seeks investors to expand solar project.