Boarding horses and solar panels: Ontario stable rents out roof for clean energy

When property owner Chris Van Den Heuvel built a new stable for his 100 acre equestrian facility picturesquely located at Orr Lake, he did so with solar energy in mind. The length side of the building is positioned due south to capture the sun’s rays most efficiently and the roof angle slants at an ideal 30-degree angle. He then submitted a Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) application with IESO but quickly found out that the bureaucratic process involved is fairly tedious.

Contracting Strathcona with the engineering and design of the project turned out to be a game-changing decision for Mr. Van Den Heuvel and the manager of the facility, Tony Moreau. The 422 high-efficiency modules manufactured by Strathcona International in Belleville were installed by sister company Strathcona Solar Initiatives who also assisted with the FiT application process. Under Ontario’s FiT program, clean solar energy can be fed into the grid to increase the availability of renewable energy in the province. In exchange, the owner of the solar panels receives a pre-set price for every kilowatt-hour generated.

Parent company Strathcona Energy Group is leasing the roof space from the owner of the building, which provides Mr. Van Den Heuvel the benefit of not having to finance the solar panels or their installation but instead receiving payment based on the production of the panels. Under the lease agreement Strathcona Energy also takes full responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the panels should any damages occur.

“Really it’s the best of both worlds for us,” says Mr. Van Den Heuvel. “The roof of the stable is being utilized exactly as I had envisioned it but without any of the responsibility or headaches solar ownership at times entails. I truly enjoy being a ‘solar landlord’ by leasing out the roof space.”

Although Orr Lake Stables is currently for sale and not occupied, it still brings in monthly revenue that is being used toward the maintenance of the facility. “The fact that the building is still generating some income in its current phase is very advantageous,” Mr. Moreau comments. “Plus, potential buyers are pleasantly surprised when they hear about the ‘clean power plant’ and the built-in income opportunity they present.”

The solar panels at Orr Lake Stables are designed to generate over 133,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy annually, which equals over 91 metric tons of carbon emissions avoided, or the amount of carbon sequestered by 2,352 tree seedlings grown for ten years.

“Solar energy is truly an exciting option for all of us,” says Karl Hollett, the owner and CEO of Strathcona Energy. “It’s a privilege for us to work together with individuals like Chris Van Den Heuvel who have a clear vision of a sustainable future and are willing to combine it with their financial savvy.”

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Head of Corporate Communications at Strathcona Energy Group. Passionate communications professional with a background in B2B, education and non-profit advancement. Excels at creating compelling strategies that complement overall communication plans and building strong collaborative relationships with key stakeholders. Enjoys hands-on work as much as strategic thinking and research.

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