The latest news is from the meeting of the Rural Advisory Committee (RAC) held on August 24 in the Fairmount Home auditorium on Battersea Road. About 100 citizens, staff, company representatives and committee members filled the room to bursting and made it stifling hot. The presentation from the different companies were standard slide shows but with lively discussions and pertinent questions afterwards.
Nothing has changed yet along the Battersea Road just north of Kingston Mills Road, but Nextera Energy, a large North American renewable energy company, has leased land from the local owner to built a 20 megaWatt (MW) photovoltaic power plant, consisting of just over 60,000 solar panels each about 3×7 feet in size.
The location of the solar plant to the right of and along Battersea Road, north from Kingston Mills Road, and south of the River Ridge Drive. The company leased this 85 acre tract from the local owner.
This project is one of two the company has now in the application and planning stage. The City of Kingston can indicate its support or concerns which becomes part of the application process set up by the Province of Ontario. The comments from citizens, city planners and Council are taken into account by the provincial adjudicator in assessing many province wide applications from different companies. In total there will be 140 MW installed in all of Ontario as part of this application. Therefore only a few projects will be approved in the end, and the Battersea project might not go ahead after all. The company has a larger project proposed for Cordukes Road to the west of Division Street and that might have a better chance of approval? However that is just conjecture at this moment.
If it goes ahead, what would it look like and what should be our concerns?
This satellite photo of the potential solar site clearly shows the forested area covering the area. Note from the site plan above that the eastern edge of the solar farm follows initially the green meandering creek and wetland running north-north-east. River Ridge Drive can be seen to encircle the site on the north. Compare the site plan with the satellite photo for impact on the natural environment.
The site is 85 acres of pasture and woodland. The forest covers about half of the property and is located in the north-east end of the site abutting Edenwood.
To generate one MW of electric power the company needs five acres of cleared land. The plan is to install a minimum of 15 M W up to possibly 20 MW. Taking the minimum amount of power, the solar panels and equipment such as inverters and control units will take 75 acres of cleared land. That leaves little for forested buffers and a berm and other visual screens.
This proposal will see the disappearance of about 40 acres of second to mature growth forest. The forest is important habitat connecting nearby woods and the reforesting abandoned pasture.The plant will come very close to the houses along River ridge Drive and the visual screen between the plant and Battersea Road might be of minimal width.
The project has a contract time of 20 years, it will be built on galvanised steel piles that don’t penetrate the underlying limestone. The surface underneath the panels will have vegetation kept at about one foot high. Decommissioning is relative easy and most of the materials are recyclable. The plant makes no noise and does not emit anything, it is however a dominant visual object in our landscape and it does destroy valuable woodland habitat.
All this has been pointed out at the open house the company organised recently. If you have further ideas or comments please let me know or send them directly to NextEra Energy Canada at: http://www.nexteraenergycanada.com/contact.shtml
For more topics click the icon and it will take you to the INDEX.