Ontario’s solar field suffers major wind damage

Last week’s high winds and blowing snow may have resulted in closed schools and numerous fender benders throughout the County, but it was small in comparison to what occurred in the Town of Ontario.

The solar field, touted to bring clean energy for the town buildings, as well as a source of power and possible income supplying the grid, was near completion…before the storm.

It was estimated that 1,992 of the solar panels, as well as some of the structures holding the panels in place were damaged by the winds coming from the north, off Lake Ontario.

Workers spent Tuesday and Wednesday dissembling panels that were either broken, or twisted, admitting the damage could delay the flipping of the switch on the Ontario Solar project.

According to Ontario Town Supervisor, John Smith, the solar field located near the waste water treatment plant off Lake Road was scheduled to go online in January.

Smith said that he was not immediately made aware of the damage.

“I have now been in contact with the Site Superintendent. Since the operation is not yet up and running and not yet on the grid, I want to assure residents it does not affect the Town taxpayers, except that it might put the project behind on the timeline. Tehre will be no cost to the town.”

“It is their site (groSolar), the town does not own the property or the equipment, so I want to assure Ontario residents that there is no liability to the town,” said Smith.

Under the contract with groSolar, the solar array, was supposed to be tested online soon, with some steel and wiring yet to be done.

Todd Wilson, the Site Superintendent appeared confident that the solar project would still be operational in early 2017.

Reached by phone, a representative from groSolar said they are “looking forward to providing green energy to Ontario and have been working closely with the town to get everything up and running.”

They stress that the site is still an active construction zone and is off limits to the public.
The Town of Ontario signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with groSolar, and a lease Agreement that was signed for the solar panels to be installed. The project was funded through a NYSERDA Investment funds grant, and the project management company will be groSolar, a dba of Global Resource Options, Inc. of Vermont.

When the project was signed, Smith noted: “This is an investment for our community. We will have no capital investment, no maintenance costs on the project and no repair fees that the Town will have to pay. Our only costs are the attorneys fees we paid to see that our PPA was written correctly. groSolar will take on the costs of maintenance, service, cleaning, etc. The incentive for them (groSolar) is that they don’t make money if the array is not high enough. Even eventual upgrades in the system would be to the benefit of the project manager. The town cannot lease equipment so they must partner with private industry and for profit companies to get the project done.

The projected savings on this project is estimated at $40,000 the first year. With ideal conditions, Ontario believes they will earn about a $4 million savings over 25 years.


NOV 26 2016
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