PEI

Land cleared for 12-hectare solar farm in Summerside

Work has been underway since December on a $69-million solar farm in Summerside, P.E.I.

Preparing the site in the winter minimizes environmental impact

The Sunbank project will add to already significant renewable energy generation in Summerside. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Work is underway on a $69-million solar farm in Summerside, P.E.I.

Plans for the Summerside Sunbank project, a 21-megawatt facility, were announced last January. Site clearing began in late December.

An environmental assessment was done through the spring and summer, including a walk-through to catalog tree species and ensure none were sensitive.

That assessment also determined the best time for site clearing.

"It's during the time and period when bird nesting is over," said Greg Gaudet, director of municipal services for the city.

"Bird nesting in the forest area usually starts in mid-April to about mid-October, so we wanted to make sure that we had the least impact to birds in the area."

The city has also committed to plant 12 hectares of new forest elsewhere, so the project will have a net-zero impact on the amount of forest in the province.

Construction is expected to begin in late May or early June, with the solar panels going online in 2022. When it is in operation, Summerside will be getting 60 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, said Gaudet.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Sheehan Desjardins

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