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  Hay storage built for solar power

AVONMORE -- Driving north on County Road 15 towards Avonmore, you might have noticed a pair of new structures rising on the landscape, their roofs clad in solar panels.

Partners Jeff Westeinde and Justin Ferrabee purchased the land to create the two buildings in an effort to supply the Hydro One grid with roof-mounted solar power -- the top-paying type of solar installation, per kilowatt, under Ontario's Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program.

Ferrabee was the one who set things in motion by finding the land just south of County Road 43 and landing FIT approval.

Both of the steel structures are approximately 20,000 square feet each and will not be completely closed in.

"We built them with hay storage in mind," said Westeinde, "So basically, they are two large lean-tos." Westeinde added that there will be walls where there is cross-bracing to reinforce the structure.

Once completed, each structure has been contracted to supply 250 kW peak output.

"From a kilowatt hour point of view, they should generate 1,200 watts for one peak," said Westeinde, which is the average for Ontario.

Westeinde said he had a 20 year Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) contract with the Ontario Power Authority which supplies Hydro One as the local power distribution company. The contract is essentially a power purchase agreement.

"Hydro One has been great to deal with," said Westeinde.

Westeinde said he currently doesn't have anybody interested in renting the space under the panels for storage, but he has made some inquiries.

"I'd love to see the buildings used by one of the local farmers," said Westeinde, who invites anyone interested in using his structures for agricultural purposes to please contact him at jeffw@rogers.som.

The Avonmore solar structures aren't the only ones that Westeinde has invested in. He recently completed a similar sized solar generating plant in Dunrobin, and is the owner of 14 smaller 10kW projects throughout Eastern Ontario.

"I've built these [structures] in other parts of the province, and I feel it's beneficial for storage," he said.

The project should wrap up in late spring with connection to the Hydro One grid in May, said Westeinde.



Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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