Minden Hills’s Renewable Energy Task Force tabled a renewable energy policy for the township during a May 12 committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Following a flood of applications for the province’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program last year Minden Hills council voted last November to create a Renewable Energy Task Force for the municipality responsible for creating a standardized approval framework for energy projects as well as reviewing project proposals.
While FIT applications are either approved or denied at the provincial level applicants earn points in the process for gaining municipal approval and so often approach local councils for support.
“People live here because it’s a beautiful area to live” said task force member Scott Harrison. “We’ve taken all these things into consideration.”
“We’re mostly interested in the large commercial projects” said member Jim Davis adding the task force was not as concerned with small-scale residential projects.
One of the proposals council looked at last year for which it ultimately denied support was for a 300-acre solar farm along County Road 21.
“The purpose of this policy is to establish priorities for the municipality to consider when reviewing proposed renewable energy projects proposed to be built or improved upon within the township and to set forth guidelines for the township to use in assessing whether to grant approval of or support for such initiatives” the document reads. “The purpose of this policy is also to provide guidelines for the township to consider in determining whether to initiate renewable energy projects which will be partially or wholly owned operated or hosted by the municipality or upon lands controlled by the municipality. The further purpose of this policy is to encourage renewable energy education opportunities the creation of demonstration projects within the township and the development of local know-how to enable participation by township residents and businesses in renewable energy and energy conservation projects and initiatives.”
“It’s a very big body of work” said Reeve Brent Devolin. “This is a very complicated matter. This is like a white paper that you use for federal policy. There’s some devil in some of the details. It’s a great start it’s worthy of more discussion.”
Devolin took some issue with some of the statements in the document including that the township set the year 2050 as the goal for achieving net-zero carbon emissions status.
“I have no interest in binding a future government” he said.
“Many municipalities have goals they set” said Councillor Pam Sayne. “It’s not a law it’s a policy and it’s not that unusual.”
Councillor Jeanne Anthon wondered when the next round of FIT applications would be taking place.
Devolin said he’d been meeting with reps from the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (the Crown corporation responsible for administering the FIT program) looking for details about new programs.
“Certainly there are some changes coming” he said.