Amherstburg celebrates opening of new 15-megwatt solar farm

By Joel Charron

Enbridge Inc. and First Solar Inc, along with town administration celebrated the completion of Enbridge’s 15-megawatt Amherstburg II Solar Project Friday morning.

The Amherstburg II Solar Farm sits just off Alma St. on Concession 3 North. About 15-megawatts are split between two separate facilities, one of which is 10 megawatts and the other being five megawatts. Roughly 244,000 solar panels sit on 154 acres of land and will provide green energy for approximately 2,400 homes, saving about 8,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to removing 1,032 cars from the road.

Enbridge also celebrated the opening of a five-megawatt solar farm in Tilbury the day prior to Amherstburg’s opening.

“Solar Energy is a key component of Enbridge’s strategy to invest in renewable energy sources that complement our core operations and provide environmental benefits,” said Don Thompson, Enbridge Vice President, Green Energy. “Our Tilbury and Amherstburg II projects are excellent examples of success of that strategy. Together, they are preventing 11,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere, and are generating enough emissions-free electricity to meet the needs of about 3,200 homes.”

Don Thompson of Enbridge, Mayor Wayne Hurst, CanSIA president Elizabeth McDonald and Frank DeRosa cut the ribbon on the new Amherstburg II Solar Project Friday, September 16.

Currently Embridge has three solar facilities and seven wind projects across North America.

“All this has happened for Embridge in the last few years,” said Thompson. “Renewable energy is an important part of the energy mix going forward. It’s not going to replace all other forms of energy but it will be an important part in its self.”

Thompson said Enbridge is not only celebrating the opening of the solar farm but also celebrating the beginning of Enbridge’s participation in the Amherstburg community.

“Embridge values our relationship with the communities we work in,” said Thompson. “This is a going to be a 25-year relationship.”

Mayor Wayne Hurst said Amherstburg is “very pleased” in welcoming Embridge and First Solar to the community.

“When you talk about green energy and look at this particular facility, a facility that can produce 15-megawatts of energy, one can only applaud and be appreciative of these corporations selecting Amherstburg.”

Hurst also mentioned that having the solar farm in the community would add Amherstburg’s tax base.

“We want to increase our tax base, not our taxes. An investment of this nature will certain do this,” said Hurst.

Senior Vice President of Business Development for First Solar, Frank DeRosa said First Solar  currently has projects in the St. Clair community as well as Sarnia, combined with the project already built will be part of 2,000 megawatts of  “clean, affordable solar power.”

“That’s equivalent to a couple of nuclear power plants or four or five coal fire plants,” said DeRosa. “We’re trying to make a difference in the energy mix.”

DeRosa mentioned that the Amherstburg II Solar Project would able to “keep dollars in the community.”

“Instead of importing fossil fuels, this is a free fuel source that enables us to keep dollars here in the community for the operations and maintance of this facility,” he said.

Elizabeth McDonald, president of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA), touted the benefits of green energy adding “the energy future for Ontario and Canada will be diversified.”

This is the second solar farm to open in Amherstburg this year. Capstone Infrastructure and SunPower dedicated the new 215-acre, $130-million solar park at the corner of North Side Road and Concession 2 North in July.

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