Thursday, August 19, 2010

Solar Jobs and What About Bob?

Here comes the sun…

Big news last week in Guelph as a well-known and accomplished manufacturer of solar modules is moving to town to set up a shop. This is good news for the 300-500 jobs that will be put on the block for Guelphites, as well as fulfilling the promise of bring more green jobs to the city, which has been a heavily campaigned topic in recent elections. The company’s named Canadian Solar Inc and Guelph will be home to its first plant based outside of China. Canadian Solar is the world’s eighth largest solar module company and its new Guelph facility will be one of the largest on the continent.

"Today’s announcement by Canadian Solar Inc. means hundreds of good jobs for Guelph,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge at the announcement at 545 Speedvale Ave, the future home of Canadian Solar’s facility. “It shows early success of the City’s economic development plan, Prosperity 2020, and represents the number one objective of the Community Energy Initiative, which is to position Guelph as a place to invest.”

The city officials and Canadian Solar executives in attendance attributed the choice of Guelph, over other areas in manufacturing-centric Southwestern Ontario, was due in large part to Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative. The initiative outlines measures to use less energy in 25 years than the city does today, to consume less energy per capita than comparable Canadian cities, and to produce less greenhouse gas per capita than the current global average.

“We chose Ontario and Guelph because of the province’s and city’s strong research and development, and the local and provincial governments’ commitment to investing in a low carbon economy,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman, President and CEO of Canadian Solar Inc. “The site selection for the new facility spread across Ontario, but in the end Guelph was chosen over several major cities as a result of its commitment to making sustainability the hallmark of the community through the Community Energy Initiative.”

Canadian Solar’s new Guelph facility is valued at about $24 million and the first phase of operations is expected to begin later this year. Once at full capacity the facility’s total output will generate enough solar power greater than the entire current electrical demand of the Guelph community, according to the press release. It certainly sounds pretty impressive anyway. One can only hope that this may be the start of a trend in terms of local green power.

In other jobs news, the Organic Meadow and Steen’s Dairy opened a new facility in Guelph on the same day as the Canadian Solar announcement. Carol Mitchell, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs was in attendance along with many of the farmers who supply the dairy. Steen's Dairy says the new 20,000 square foot facility will allow the company to double production and keep up with modern efficiencies, while being able to process conventional and organic products.

What About Bob?

So it happened last Monday. Ward 6 Councillor Christine Billings joined ward-mate Karl Wettstein in the race to get re-elected to her seat on the horseshoe. So that means that all the incumbents on council, save one, have declared one way or the other, with only Kathleen Farrelly refraining from running again.

But what of Farrelly's fellow Ward 1 councillor Bob Bell? In the most competitive race in the whole darn election, he's the only incumbent to not say either way whether he's in or not (at least by deadline), and time is running out. Of course, the flip side is that Wards 3 through 6 are running challenge-less so far. Time is running out for people to throw their hats in the ring. Can a flood of last minute candidates be in the offing?

Nominations for mayor, city council, and school boards close on September 10th.

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