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Construction starts on Base Line solar farm

By Carol Martin
SooToday.com
Sunday, April 04, 2010

Advanced site preparation and demolition work on the first of two planned solar generating facilities in Sault Ste. Marie is underway, says Pod Generating Group President and Chief Operating Officer Glen Martin.

And projected costs for the Base Line facility, being built under the auspices of Q-Cells International Canada, have actually dropped significantly since Pod began putting the project together four years ago.

In 2006, the cost per watts-peak hour was well above $6 Canadian, Martin said.

But by the time the company was ready to secure investors, it had dropped by 50 percent.

Now, the price to produce solar energy has dropped another 20 to 30 percent just in the past year, said Martin.

This bodes well for Pod Generating Group as it develops Phase 2 of the project - a 40-megawatt solar generating facility on Black Road.

When the project was announced it was the biggest of its kind in North America, but Martin said the business is growing fast.

It could grow faster, too, if the electrical transmission lines that carry power to the grid for distribution across Ontario had more capacity.

Martin said that, if the capacity of those transmission lines were increased, we would see a tremendous outflow of green energy development across the province, especially in Northern Ontario.

He was speaking at the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel and Conference Centre, to participants at last week's Business of Clean Tech workshop hosted by Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre.

Martin said that Sault Ste. Marie is producing more energy than it's using and a growing percentage of that energy is green.

And the world is taking notice of what we're doing on the green front.

Energy policy personnel in the Los Angeles Mayor's office is contemplating a visit to the Sault to see the positive effects of the Ontario feed-in-tariff on job creation in cleantech, said Martin.

Pod Generating Group has been working in Sault Ste. Marie since 2006 to secure permits and property to build two solar generating facilities with a total combined output of 60 megawatts and value of over $300 million.

The first of two 10-megawatt sites to be located at the Base Line facility is under construction now.

The company's planned Black Road facility will include four 10-megawatt sites.

Pod Generating Group is the first of at least three local solar initiatives also including Heliene Canada and McRain Developments Inc., two companies that have expressed intent to manufacture solar panels in Sault Ste. Marie.

As reported earlier by SooToday.com, Pod Generating sold its Base Line development to U.S.- based Starwood Energy Group Global, LLC and is now moving on to develop Phase 2 on Black Road in January.

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