Horizon unveils ambitious solar energy plan
McMaster, Mohawk also involved
March 27, 2010
The Hamilton Spectator
The people who distribute electricity in Hamilton have an ambitious plan to turn the area into "Ontario's Solar Sunbelt" by installing solar panels across the city.
The newly formed Horizon Energy Solutions Inc. -- a sister company to Horizon Utilities Corp., which distributes electricity in the area -- has stepped forward to take advantage of provincial incentives for solar energy projects.
"Horizon is currently negotiating agreements for solar installations on dozens of commercial, institutional and industrial sites in this area and beyond," Max Cananzi, CEO of Horizon Holdings, told a media conference yesterday.
Horizon plans to rent rooftops around the city and shoulder the costs of installing and maintaining solar panels that would feed power into the province's electrical grid.
Horizon is taking advantage of a program established by the McGuinty government's Green Energy Act that provides guaranteed pricing to make the projects profitable for investors.
"It provides both a ready market and fee structure that will nurture solar power to the point that it will be commercially viable through economies of scale," Cananzi said.
Horizon is entering a marketplace that has all kinds of upstart businesses trying to take advantage of the government program.
The Horizon move is part of an alliance that involves the cities of Hamilton and St. Catharines, as well as McMaster University and Mohawk College, and aims to maximize the benefit to the community.
Horizon Energy and Horizon Utilities are both 100 per cent owned by Horizon Holdings Inc.
Horizon Holdings is owned by Hamilton Utilities Corporation and St. Catharines Hydro Inc., which are respectively owned by the cities of Hamilton and St. Catharines.
"The placement of more local sources of generation throughout the system, close to the customer, reduces our reliance on centralized generation sites," Cananzi said.
In Mohawk's case, the emphasis will be on helping students learn the skills they need to work in the emerging green industry.
McMaster will be devoting research efforts to further develop materials and techniques to more efficiently harvest energy from the sun.
McMaster is also in discussions about how the program could be best applied on campus.
Tony Cupido, director of the university's physical plant, says McMaster is looking at a plan that could produce 250 kilowatts of power. But it's not clear yet, he said, what the plan would mean in revenue for McMaster.