"As society and governments increasingly accept green energy, we believe that solar energy represents meaningful opportunities for long-term growth," said Patrick D. Daniel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Enbridge, Inc. "The Sarnia Solar Project is right in the sweet spot of Enbridge's renewable energy strategy. It has risk and return characteristics which are fully consistent with Enbridge's low-risk business model, and similar to our crude oil pipeline business.
At the same time it represents a further step towards our corporate goal of a neutral environmental footprint.
"We're pleased to work with First Solar, the global leader in solar energy, in the commercialization of this project," Mr. Daniel continued. "In 2009, Enbridge's investment in solar energy will be approximately $100 million. We plan to continue to invest in further renewable energy investments which have similar risk and return characteristics, including potential additional investments in Ontario."
The Sarnia Solar Project is expected to be completed by the end of 2009 and be the largest photovoltaic solar energy facility in operation in Canada and one of the largest in North America. At 20 MW, Enbridge expects the project will generate enough power to meet the needs of about 3,200 homes and help to save the equivalent of approximately 6,600 tonnes of CO2 per year.
"Enbridge's investment underscores the fact that large-scale solar photovoltaic power generation is becoming a reality," said Bruce Sohn, President of First Solar. "This agreement is the first that realizes the value of the OptiSolar project development pipeline that we acquired in April. First Solar's project development and engineering, procurement and construction capabilities have enabled us to complete over 65 per cent of the 20 MW project in less than three months." First Solar did not recognize revenue from this project in the fiscal third quarter.
Under the terms of the agreement, First Solar is constructing the solar project under a fixed price engineering, procurement and construction contract, utilizing its thin film photovoltaic technology. First Solar's advanced thin film technology has been deployed in over 1,000 MW of installations in the U.S. and Europe.
First Solar will also provide operations and maintenance services under a long-term contract. The power output of the facility will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority pursuant to a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement under the terms of the Ontario Government's Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program. Subject to certain conditions, Enbridge may participate with First Solar in future solar energy projects at the Sarnia site.
The Sarnia project will complement Enbridge's four existing wind energy projects which have a combined capacity of 260 megawatts. Enbridge's share of the power generated by the wind facilities provides enough green energy to meet the equivalent of 35 per cent of the power requirements of the Company's Canadian crude oil mainline. Enbridge also has interests in emissions-free hybrid fuel cell technology and waste heat recovery facilities.
"Enbridge is pleased to invest in infrastructure projects like the Sarnia Solar Project that are creating near term employment in Ontario, as well as advancing Ontario's green energy policy objectives," said Mr. Daniel. "Ontario's Green Energy Act demonstrates the commitment of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Honourable George Smitherman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure to a diversified portfolio of green energy solutions and to encouraging investment in Ontario. We already own and operate the 190 MW Enbridge Ontario Wind Project in Bruce County, Ontario, the second largest in Canada, and we welcome the opportunity to help create additional environmentally preferred energy solutions and to support a diversified, interconnected and stable supply of green energy in Ontario."