For Kapuskasing, 2012 looks to be the year of solar energy.
In mid-December, Kapuskasing announced that Eclipsall Energy Corp., a Toronto-based company, will be providing photovoltaic modules for the municipality's 30 solar projects.
Al Spacek, mayor of Kapuskasing, is also president of Kapuskasing Solar, which is spearheading the $2.6-million project.
He said that numerous sites have already been completed, and plans on having the rest up and running and connected shortly.
The project will provide revenue for the community for up to 20 years. Spacek couldn't discuss the yearly revenue, but did say that it's substantial.
Eclipsall, a world-class manufacturer of solar panels, first discovered the project through Strathcona and discovered that its package was exactly what the municipality was looking for.
“In 2011, the crane started to lift to the top,” said Les Lyster, CEO of Eclipsall.
Lyster is very familiar with Northern Ontario and has family that currently lives in the North.
“We combined to be able to provide turnkey solutions that was chosen by Kapuskasing.”
Because of the Ontario's Feed-in Tariff program, the municipality can only put in one project per registered lot.
As a result, Kapuskasing organized a series of public meetings to discuss the project with its citizens, and give them the opportunity to question the prospective locations.
“If someone said there's going to be a substantial impact on the value of their property, or the aesthetics of their view, we simply went somewhere else,” explained Spacek. “That's the benefit of having the luxury of having a lot of lots available.”
According to Spacek, there are two prominent features to the project that are going to be very beneficial to the community.
“One, it's going to be cash-flow positive for the municipality after year one,” he said. “Second, we've formed a business model and we are offering that to our neighbouring communities throughout northeastern Ontario.”
By going through the entire process for the project, Spacek said that they've developed in-house expertise on the subject.
Although he wasn't able to identify them at this point in time, Spacek said he has met with a number of communities and it's “looking really good.”
Spacek said that they will prepare the application and site plan, construction and involve local contractors and suppliers to maximize the benefits of the community.
The idea to expand and have neighbouring communities participate makes sense to Lyster, who added his company would jump at the opportunity to provide more state-of-the-art solar equipment for potential projects.
“It's a compelling argument that I think Al (Spacek) will be able to talk about to his colleagues,” he said. “Kapuskasing is just on top of the game. They see the opportunity and recognized it early on.
“It's been a pleasure to work with them because they're very progressive.”