If a solar project gets Innisfail council approval, it would be a similar in scale to the Elemental Energy project, located in Brooks Alta. Photo supplied/Town of Innisfail/CBC News

A solar energy project proposed in Innisfail

Enough solar energy could power 4,000 homes

Innisfail homes could be using cleaner energy if council gives the green light to a solar project.

At a special meeting Monday evening, council heard a presentation for a proposed 70-acre solar farm that will generate enough electricity to power about 4,000 homes.

The project is being pitched by Calgary-based Temporis Development, and Innisfail’s Bilton Welding and Manufacturing Ltd.

Robbie Donaldson, Temporis managing director, said if approved, the solar farm will be built on a piece of land owned by the town. In return, the town will receive rent at $500 per acre. The property tax for the piece of land will also be paid to the town, although that number has not been determined yet.

Todd Becker, chief executive officer for the Town of Innisfail, said the proposed location for the plant is adjacent to Hwy 54, just north of Innisfail Golf Club. That piece of land presently generates $6,000 annually through an agricultural lease.

Becker said solar projects are becoming more of a norm, but not so much in an urban setting such as this one.

“It is a big deal if it gets approved,” said Becker.

Donaldson said a community endowment fund at $1,000 per installed megawatt is also being proposed.

Details haven’t been worked out yet, but the community will be able to use the money for initiatives benefiting everyone like upgrades at parks or ski hill, said Donaldson.

Donaldson said users won’t be able to buy the electricity generated, but it will be part of the local electricity network. The majority of the power will be used by homes and businesses within Innisfail.

He said users won’t be able to tell the difference in the quality of power except solar energy is cleaner.

As for why Innisfail was chosen for the project, Donaldson said the land fits the requirements of installing a solar farm plant, but mostly because the initiative will bring together the private and public sectors.

He said projects like these go forward all the time with private landowners receiving the rent. In this instance, however, it would be the Town of Innisfail.

If approved, construction of the project will commence in May 2019.


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