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Sun Mine construction set to begin


Construction is set to begin on the $5.3 million Sun Mine project on reclaimed Sullivan Mine lands in Kimberley.

Sun Mine will have over 4,000 solar-cell modules, mounted on 96 solar trackers which follow the sun's movement, maximizing solar exposure. It will be the first solar project in B.C. to sell power to the BC Hydro grid, and also the largest solar project outside of eastern Canada.

Partners include Teck, which provides land and site infrastructure as well as a $2 million monetary contribution; and $1 million from the province's Innovative Clean Energy Fund through the EcoSmart Foundation. It is also supported by the Columbia Basin Trust and the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust. Conergy Canada has been chosen as the primary contractor to provide engineering, procurement and construction management. Sun Mine will be built over this summer and fall with a target date of operation by January 2015.

Upon completion, Sun Mine will be:

• the largest solar facility west of Ontario;

• the first redevelopment of reclaimed land into a solar farm in Canada;

• the first large solar project in Canada supported by a mining company;

• the first utility scale solar facility developed, owned, and operated by a Canadian municipality;

• the first 1000V DC solar installation outside of Ontario;

• the first grid-connected solar photovoltaic installation in B.C.;

• the first large-scale project in western Canada to use solar trackers.

The City of Kimberley expects to pay back its loan of $2 million through the generation and sale of power to BC Hydro. The price received for electricity will be guaranteed through a 25-year power purchase contract with BC Hydro, which will pay $110.10 per kilowatt hour produced, estimated to yield $244,000 per year.

The primary contractor, Conergy is providing a two-year performance guarantee that the facility will produce at least 90 per cent of the total design capacity and will pay the city the difference if it does not. The agreement with the contractor is a fixed price agreement.

Sun Mine has a $5.3 million construction budget, which includes $4.05 million for the Engineer Procure Construct project, $1.1 million for ancillary project costs and $219,000 for performance, labour and material bonding and contingency.

After loan payments, operations and maintenance expenses, net revenue is expected to average $57,800 per year over 25 years. The City's loan will be paid off in 20 years.

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