After a Summerland councillor raised questions about the Summerland solar and storage project, another member of council spoke out in support of the project.
Coun. Erin Carlson presented a motion “to reaffirm that council will complete the integrated solar and battery storage program in its chosen location.”
Her motion came after Coun. Richard Barkwill had announced but later withdrawn a notice of motion to change the wording on the municipality’s question and answer page for the program. Barkwill’s wording change called for removing information about cost savings. In its place, he called for the statement, “The solar panels will create at least four times the greenhouse gases as our existing hydro power for the equivalent electricity production.”
Carlson said the solar project had earlier been approved by Summerland council and will receive federal funding.
“It’s proven technology. It isn’t complicated, it’s cheaper, and we get a lot of sunshine, especially in the summer months,” she said.
She added that Barkwill’s concerns, which had been submitted as letters to the editor in area media, were inappropriate.
“Council debate happens at the council table, not in the media,” she said.
Discussion on Carlson’s motion continued for more than an hour during the Feb. 22 evening council meeting.
Coun. Doug Holmes said the integrated project is an important step in reducing peak energy use, and it has been funded by a federal grant.
However, Barkwill said his statements about the project came about because of what he called inaccurate information in reports submitted to council. “I want all the facts on the table,” he said.
Coun. Marty Van Alphen said while he supports the project, he does not agree with the current location and believes a location near the water treatment plant would be better suited for the project.
Barkwill said the value of the land for a municipal project should always be considered.
Carlson’s motion was carried with Barkwill, Van Alphen and Coun. Doug Patan opposed.
The municipal council decision to approve the solar project was made at a July 13 council meeting. The project, with an estimated cost of between $6 million and $7 million, will have 3,200 solar panels and would have a lifespan of 35 years.
That resolution also passed with a 4-3 vote, with Barkwill, Van Alphen and Patan opposed.
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