Friday, June 14, 2024

Company gets 2nd crack at pitching contentious battery storage project | CBC News

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A renewable energy company based in Gatineau, Que., is getting a second crack at garnering the local support it needs for a proposed battery storage facility in west Ottawa. 

Evolugen wants to build a battery facility south of Fitzroy Harbour for storing excess energy. 

They’re one of many companies that have pitched projects to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which is seeking ways to bolster the province’s energy grid over the coming decades. 

But an Evolugen info session held last fall in Fitzroy Harbour did not go well, by the company’s own account. 

Facing a tight deadline to apply to the IESO, the company was not able to answer all of residents’ “legitimate” concerns about the project, said Geoff Wright, Evolugen’s Canadian head of development, adding that it was “a really hard lesson” for the company. 

A majority of Ottawa city councillors — including West Carleton-March Coun. Clarke Kelly, whose ward includes the land where the facility would go — then voted against the proposal.

Under the IESO’s approval system, projects can’t proceed unless they receive local councillors’ blessing. 

An 18-month deadline

Evolugen’s project has recently been given a renewed charge, though.

Earlier this month, the IESO announced that, despite the lack of local support, Evolugen’s project was being offered a contract

That came as a surprise to Kelly, who voiced his disappointment in a statement to his constituents

The IESO’s decision seemed like “a little bit of a slap in the face” when it comes to the public consultation process, he told CBC on Saturday. 

Still, Kelly said he’d meet with the company and the province over the next week to hear them out.

The contract is not a done deal, though. 

Evolugen has 18 months to gain Ottawa city council’s support or else the contract will be “terminated,” according to the IESO. 

A new round of public engagement is slated to begin this summer, and Wright said Evolugen is hopeful the next year and a half will offer “enough time for people to get all the facts on the table.”

“We have to start to bend the curve around decarbonizing the energy system,” he added. 

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