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2 solar farms and a biomass plant want to set up in Hamilton

Three green energy projects are all hoping for city council endorsement to help them be among those awarded provincial contracts
This photo shows panels at a Grand Renewable Solar site in Haldimand County. Samsung Renewable Energy wants to build a similar site in Flamborough. Oshawa-Danilexa wants to build a solar farm in Ancaster, and another company wants to build a biomass plant. (Samsung Renewable Energy)

A farm full of solar panels. Another solar farm project that involves restoring a historic building. A biomass project that would import saw dust from northern Ontario lumber mills.

All three projects are looking to set up in Hamilton, and next week, councillors will likely approve two of them.

Elected officials will deliberate whether to approve the proposed Scotch Block Solar Farm project in Ancaster, Samsung's Mountsberg solar area in north Flamborough and the Cecil Kalyn biomass generator in Flamborough.

City staff recommend approving the biomass facility, which would generate energy from saw dust trucked in from northern Ontario. They also recommend approving the Samsung project.

- Uwe Roeper, Ortech consulting

The only project they don't recommend is the Scotch Block project, which would include restoring the historic Russell-Christie house from 1860 and putting community gardens around the building. That project is on prime agricultural land according to the city's official plan, said Guy Paparella, the city's director of growth planning.

The projects are coming forward because of a provincial government mandate to create more green energy. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) hopes to award enough contracts to generate 300 megawatts of wind energy, 140 megawatts of solar power, 50 megawatts of bioenergy and 75 megawatts of hydro.

The companies have until Sept. 1 to submit bids, with the winning bidders chosen late this year. And while the IESO ultimately picks, each project is scored, and those with municipal support will have a leg up over the others.

The city's planning committee will decide Tuesday which projects, if any, it will support. Lloyd Ferguson, councillor for Ancaster, said he's against the Scotch Block project.

'Fairly quiet rural use'

"It's the wrong place to put it," he said.

"It's prime agricultural land. If you're going to build a solar farm, build it on rocky land."

The property, located at 1541 Fiddlers Green Rd., isn't part of the current airport employment growth district (AEGD), some 555 hectares of land approved to attract jobs and growth. It is part of a possible future phase two, Paparella said.

Uwe Roeper hopes to sway councillors with his presentation Tuesday. Roeper, a consultant with Ortech, will advocate for the Oshawa-Danilexa joint venture known as the Scotch Block Solar Farm.

The project is a good transition from farmland to AEGD land, Roeper said.

"It provides a soft transition for the long-term change around the airport," he said. And "this will ensure that this property will not become commercial. It's not going to become a trucking facility. This will keep the property a fairly quiet rural use property."

The company will also be using 44 hectares (110 acres) of land that has been under a power of sale for years, he said. Its current historic home has a leaking roof, and Oshawa-Danilexa will fix it and open it to the public.

Wooden pellets from northern saw mills

The project would have about 45,000 solar panels, each roughly one by two metres in size, Roeper said. That's enough to power about 2,500 homes in Hamilton.

The Mountsberg farm, meanwhile, would see about 60,000 solar panels in leased rural land north of Freelton. Samsung is negotiating 20-year contracts with landowners to determine where to put the three by five-foot panels. The farm would generate 15 to 20 megawatts of electricity.

The company is holding a public meeting on July 7, a few hours after the planning committee meeting.

The Cecil Kalyn biomass project, meanwhile, would be at 97 5th Concession Rd. E. The saw dust from lumber mills in northern Ontario would be turned into pellets and used to generate steam, and then 250 kilowatts of electricity.

Once proposals are accepted, the Ministry of Environment will assess the environmental impact of each one.

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