Clouds are in the forecast for the Brantford Municipal Airport’s plan to install solar panels on the rooftops of the airport’s two largest hangars.
Last week, airport board member Greg Martin told council that selling electricity produced by the solar panels through the provincial microFIT program would generate revenue for maintenance and tarmac repairs.
But at Monday’s city council meeting, public works general manager Geoff Rae told councillors that there wasn’t enough time to prepare an application to the Ontario Power Authority by a Jan. 17 deadline.
The airport board had asked city staff to expedite the application, but Rae said it will not be possible to structurally assess the roof, lock down cost estimates, review the legal contract and find community partners, as recommended by the OPA for such projects.
Taking all of these steps in time to meet the deadline would require “external assistance” from lawyers, engineers and project managers to the tune of $100,000 in non-refundable costs.
“At this time, the thorough analysis can’t be conducted,” Rae said.
An informal proposal from Brant Renewable Energy indicated that installing solar panels on the 80,000 square feet of rooftop space could generate 600 kilowatt hours of power, which works out to roughly $400,000 in annual revenue.
Capital costs for the project were projected to be $2.1 million, plus $18,000 annually to insure and operate the panels.
Coun. David Neumann worried that missing this chance to apply to the microFIT program might scuttle the project, as there is no guarantee the province will offer preferential hydro rates to renewable energy projects in the future.
However, Rae was still optimistic.
“We want to continue to progress so we are ready when the next available window becomes open,” he said.