Transforming a Mining Town into a Solar Energy Destination
The Challenge: Diversification is the Key
How can a community such as Kimberley, with its pioneering history and commitment to a diversified economy, leverage its resourcefulness and resilience to make good use of an old mining site?
The Solution: Eternal Sunshine Thanks to Citizen Support
The SunMine concept was introduced by Michel de Spot of the Vancouver-based EcoSmart Foundation in 2008. In 2011, 76% of Kimberley voters were in favour of the City borrowing $2 million toward the project. After a competitive process to select the prime contractor, the decision to proceed with construction was made April 2014. SunMine began commercial operation June 22, 2015.
The project is 100% owned and operated by the City of Kimberley and was built with a total budget of $5.35 million. There were a number of contributions: $2 million from the City; $2 million from Teck Resources; $1 million from the Province of B.C.; $300,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust; and $50,000 from the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust.
Benefits: The Sun Continues to Shine
The SunMine project has created new clean power, raised awareness of Kimberley, and resulted in new employment and regional investment.
Subsequently, there have been a number of benefits since SunMine broke ground in July 2014:
- The City of Cranbrook has signed an agreement with P2 Solar for a 25 year lease of 2 hectares of City lands
- Two large pieces of crown land east of Kimberley, north of Cranbrook have been tenured for solar development
- The City of Kimberley is in discussions with half dozen qualified investors about SunMine expansion and siting in Kimberley
- Fortis BC is actively evaluating solar investments in the region
Outcomes: Making Hay While the Sun Shines
Commercial Energy Production (Jun 2015 to Apr 2016)
- 1,500 megawatt hours of energy generated
- $166,710 in revenue
- $30,400 operating cost
- $90,500 placed in capital reserve
Public Relations and Awareness of Kimberley
- 600+ people toured the facility
- 150+ media articles and blogs
- 8,500+ unique visitors to www.sunmine.ca
- 2015 Community of the Year Award by Clean Energy BC
- 2015 Community Excellence Award for Leadership and Innovation in Green Initiatives from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM)
- 2016 Sustainability Award from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC
- 2016 National Award for an Engineering Project or Achievement from Engineers Canada.
- 2017 Clean 50 Award for Top 15 Sustainability-Oriented Project
- 29 locals were hired for 7.5 weeks of full-time employment during construction
- Incremental 610 hours of annual cleaning and commissioning work
- Incremental 1,000 hours annually or ½ FTE for ongoing monitoring and operating by city electricians
Lessons Learned: Sunny Ways
- Kimberley’s pioneering spirit makes possible the transition from mining to tourism and now to clean energy
- Citizen support is critical for significant projects like SunMine
- SunMine achieved its purpose of raising the community’s profile as a sunny, innovative community
- Kimberley continues to spread the word: in Fall 2015, Mayor McCormick was a feature presenter on SunMine at the CivX Lower Mainland Local Government Conference
December 8, 2017