St. Clair worried LGS solar plan may block other development

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St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold is worried a plan to put solar panels at the Lambton Generating Station may eliminate any chances to use the plant for anything else.

The Ontario Power Authority is working on an application to the Integrated Electric System Operator for a 30-megawatt project in Courtright. It wants to put up to 1,000 panels on the former coal pile area to generate up to 30 mega-watts of energy.

OPG is one of 42 companies approved by the government to bid for the large-scale renewable projects this September.

Arnold says the company appears to want to put the panels “essentially any place that could be developed without any effort.”

Under the current plan, the panels would block access to the unloading area used for coal in the past and would place class one farm land, owned by OPG but rented to a local farmer, under panels. That’s a practice the province has discouraged.

“It would eliminate any future use of the site,” says Arnold saying the township was hopeful that eventually the plant could be put to use generating power from natural gas or biomass.

Township council asked OPG to consider moving the panels to another spot on the property. “

“They’re capping the onsite landfill site, and gypsum pile…that’s a great spot to put solar panels it’s not going to be used for anything else.”

The OPG still has to submit its plan by September and win a contract. After that, Arnold says, the township would have to approve a site plan agreement where it could have influence over where the panels are placed.