Enbridge expanding Sarnia’s first solar farm

Enbridge expanding Sarnia’s First Solar farm
By Shawn Jeffords, www.theobserver.ca   The Observer

A major player in the energy market has given Sarnia’s First Solar farm a resounding endorsement.

Enbridge inked an agreement Tuesday with First Solar to buy an additional 60 megawatts of electrical capacity from the solar farm in southeast Sarnia, having already agreed to buy the existing 20 megawatts.

When complete a year from now, the $300-million expansion will result in the largest photovoltaic solar energy facility in North America.

The Enbridge purchase is a major show of confidence in the project and the municipality, said Peter Carrie, vice-president of development for First Solar.

“We plan to be a big part of the Sarnia operation over the next 20 years,” Carrie said.

The agreement does not change the size, scope or number of workers required to complete the project, he said.

Enbridge and First Solar announced in October an agreement for Enbridge to acquire the initial 20 megawatts at the Sarnia site. The project achieved full commercial operation on Monday.

“We’re delighted to further strengthen our relationship with First Solar,” said Patrick D. Daniel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Enbridge, Inc., in a news release. “Enbridge has made significant strides in growing its green energy business in 2009.”

Enbridge will now have more than 470 megawatts of green energy capacity from wind, solar and fuel cell projects.

Construction is expected to begin this month on the 60- megawatt expansion. With 80 megawatts of peak capacity, Enbridge expects the Sarnia Solar Project will generate enough electricity to power 12,800 homes and save the equivalent of 39,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

First Solar will provide operations and maintenance services to Enbridge under a long-term contract.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said the agreement is a sign that local plans to bolster a green economy are working.

“Across North America, Sarnia is the bright light in leading the way on solar with what is believed to be the largest solar farm,” Bradley said. “That fact is a huge selling point for the image of the area, the Research Park and future manufacturing job creation.”

Observer Article ID# 2213073

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