The municipality of Summerland is exploring the concept of an eco-village development near the 
community’s solar project. (District of Summerland graphic)

The municipality of Summerland is exploring the concept of an eco-village development near the community’s solar project. (District of Summerland graphic)

YEAR IN REVIEW: The evolution of Summerland’s solar project

Rising prices led to council revisiting scope and scale of proposed initiative

A proposed solar energy project, approved by Summerland council in the summer of 2020, received plenty of council attention in 2021.

The project is for a solar array and battery storage on Cartwright Mountain, along with an eco-village development nearby. The initial motion, in July 2020, passed in a 4-3 council decision.

The solar and battery project had an estimated cost of between $6 million and $7 million.

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In February, Coun. Erin Carlson presented a motion “to reaffirm that council will complete the integrated solar and battery storage program in its chosen location.” This 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 Richard Barkwill had announced but later withdrawn a notice of motion to change the wording on the municipality’s question and answer page for the program.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 hydropower for the equivalent electricity production.”

The motion to reaffirm the solar project carried, again in a 4-3 decision.

In summer, the eco-village was added to the list of Summerland council’s strategic priorities.

The proposed eco-village would see 40 to 60 single-family homes in the area. These houses will be designed as environmentally friendly buildings and will likely have solar panels on their roofs.

The proposal came under scrutiny in November, when Jeremy Storvold, Summerland’s director of utilities, presented new proposed estimates showing significantly higher costs.

The new cost estimates were around $10.5 million, depending on which option was chosen. “Price escalation resulting from a variety of factors has affected this project,” Storvold said. “Pandemic-induced supply chain issues, inflationary pressures and substantial increases to materials and supplies have introduced unanticipated price pressures from the market.”

In December, council voted to consider two options to keep the project within the original cost estimates.

Under the first of these options, the solar component would be removed and the focus would be on the battery storage element only.

This option is simpler to design and requires less civil work, but there is no solar power generation.

An option to scale back the solar and battery storage plan was also considered. This would keep the same concept as had been envisioned, but would result in less power generation.

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2021 Year in ReviewSummerland