Saturday Feb 04, 2023

Penticton firm tapped to build Summerland solar project –

A construction company based in Penticton has been awarded a $5.2-million contract to build Summerland’s flagship solar project.

Under terms of their winning bid, Wildstone Construction and joint-venture partner SkyFire Energy are expected to begin finalizing designs and plans for the Solar+Storage project in August, with civil works slated to start next spring. Commissioning is due to be complete by Sept. 13, 2023.

The bid from Wildstone and SkyFire, an employee-owned co-operative based in Calgary that maintains an office in West Kelowna, were selected from among seven submissions, council was told during an update Monday. Local outfits Chute Creek Construction and SRM Concrete are also part of the winning group.

Representatives from SkyFire told council the battery components will come EVLO, a subsidiary of publicly owned Hydro Quebec, while the solar panels will come from Chinese firm LONGi.

The project, slated for a former public works yard owned by the District of Summerland on Cartwright Mountain, was originally set to feature a one-megawatt solar array, capable of running approximately 100 homes, plus batteries to store another 4.5 megawatt-hours of power.

However, bids received last year put the price in the range of $10.4 million – well over the district’s $7-million budget – due to rising costs associated with increasing demand for green energy products.

Rather than increase the budget – which contains a $980,000 contribution from local taxpayers and a $6-million federal grant – council asked staff for options to reduce the scope of the project to fit within the $7-million envelope.

The chosen option maintains all the elements of the original proposal, but cuts the solar grid’s output to 0.4 megawatt hours, and reduces battery storage capacity to 3.6 megawatt-hours.

Before cutting the scope and pushing back completion by one year, council had to get approval from the federal grant program.

In addition to the solar project, council is separately moving along a planned eco-village at the site that would feature homes built to the highest environmental standards to showcase green building and green energy.

Council has directed staff to do as much legwork as possible, such as rezoning, infrastructure servicing and site layouts, to make the project attractive to developers, who will be invited to buy the land from the district and actually build the eco-village according to design.

The idea of an eco-village was put forward by Coun. Marty Van Alphen to help build support for the solar project and strengthen the case for running sewer lines to that part of Summerland.


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