New E.Y. Civic Centre solar panels generate enough to power 10 homes

The East York Civic Centre has long been a place from where power emanates.

That’s never been more true than now.

The Civic Centre’s roof is sporting recently installed solar panels, which generate enough electricity to power about 10 medium- to large-sized homes, according to project manager Rob Maxwell.

“Two years ago, city council approved a program under which the city, in partnership with Toronto Hydro, is building up to two megawatts of solar installations on the roofs of city buildings,” he said.

The East York installation predates the larger City of Toronto program, he said.

The city has signed a 20-year deal to sell all the electricity produced by these solar panels to the Ontario Power Authority, said Jim Kamstra, a manager for Toronto’s energy and waste management office.

“We have a contract to sell that power back to the grid,” Kamstra said. “We get 71.3 cents per kilowatt hour. We could generate about 40,000 kilowatt hours per year.”

Last year, the East York Civic Centre paid roughly 12 cents per kilowatt hour, according to figures provided by Joel Arthurs, energy management analyst for the city.

“In 2011, the East York Civic Centre had a total cost of $194,000 in hydro charges,” Arthurs said. “The total consumption of electricity was 1,600,000 kilowatt hours.”

The larger city-wide power-generation program will produce 25 times as much energy as the Civic Centre, Maxwell said.

The East York project is a predecessor for the first group of 10 sites the city is working to complete in the next few years.

The City of Toronto owns all of the electricity generated at the Civic Centre before it’s sold back to the grid, which means it also receives all of the revenue, Kamstra said. That makes this one different from the larger projects in the city’s plan.

“On the larger projects, the City of Toronto is splitting it,” Kamstra said. “Forty-nine per cent to the city and 51 per cent to Toronto Hydro.”

The city is waiting on approval by the Ontario Power Authority for the second group of installations to complete the two-megawatt project, Maxwell said.

“We’re currently at half of our overall program target,” he said.