April 30, 2007

Sarnia to be location of North America's largest solar farm

A contract awarded through Ontario's Standard Offer Program (SOP) will see the construction of North America's largest solar farm in Sarnia. OptiSolar Farms will install over one million ground-mounted solar panels to convert solar power into electricity. The four solar farms making up the overall project will contribute 40 megawatts (MW) to the grid by 2010-enough to supply electricity for 6,000 homes.

"The Ontario government has chosen to take a world-leading role in encouraging the development of renewable energy, and the Standard Offer Program is making things happen," said OptiSolar Farms vice-president Peter Carrie. "Our goal is to make solar power a mainstream energy source."

More information is available from Peter Carrie, vice-president, OptiSolar Farms Canada, 519/ 818-2400, FAX 519/848-2600, E-mail petercarrie@yahoo.com.

The Sarnia project is one of 14 most recent renewable energy initiatives approved through the SOP, which was developed and is managed by the Ontario Power Authority. Others include two residential-sized solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, several 10 MW wind farms and two waterpower projects with First Nations participation. The Gitchi Animki Bezhig project will produce more than eight MW of electricity, while the Gitchi Animki Niizh project will produce 9.9 MW. All of the contracted projects are expected to be in service by 2010.

Coinciding with the OptiSolar project announcement was the OPA's release of its 2007 First Quarter Report on the program. Since February, 36 projects have been awarded under the SOP. Taken together, these projects will generate 250 MW of renewable energy-enough to power more than 55,000 homes.

Since its inception in November 2006, the SOP has signed 36 contracts with small renewable generators for a total of 238 MW of power to be provided to the Ontario grid. The 20-year contracts involve all four renewable "fuels:" solar, water power, biomass and wind. As part of the application process, each project is required to demonstrate the commencement of the environmental screening process, if required.

The OPA is currently reviewing a further 89 applications and will award contracts as they are evaluated; these will be reported quarterly. All of the contracted projects are expected to be in service by 2010.

Ontario's Renewable Standard Offer Program is the largest of its kind in North America and is expected to add 1,000 MW of clean energy to the grid over the next ten years. It represents a collaboration of the OPA, the Ontario Energy Board, local distribution companies and organizations promoting renewable energy. The program is guided by the principles of: simplicity, the removal of barriers to participation by smaller projects, support for the government's renewable generation targets, and provision of value to Ontario's electricity users.

Details on the SOP may be viewed on the OPA Web site, www.powerauthority.on.ca/sop.

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