Solar project still shines for Kirkland Lake: Criminal charges against former Kap Energy exec don't deter municipality from advancing renewable energy project.

Author:Ross, Ian

The Town of Kirkland Lake is pressing ahead with a solar park project despite the controversy surrounding criminal charges laid against a former executive of Energie Kapuskasing Energy (EKE).

After a lengthy review of the town's five-year-old partnership agreement signed with the utility, Wilf Hass, Kirkland Lake's economic development and tourism director, said the municipality is satisfied there wasn't any sign of malfeasance affecting their project.

"We are comfortable that the untoward activity did not touch this project."

Two men, associated with EKE, were recently charged with defrauding the Town of Kapuskasing of $800,000.

Yvon Brousseau, 64, and Ken Hollett, 54, were both charged with Fraud over $5,000 under the Criminal Code of Canada. Brousseau has also been charged with Breach of Trust by a Public Officer.

Brousseau had served as the town's chief administrative officer, but resigned in 2014 to take the role of chief executive officer at EKE.

Hollett had been the CEO of Strathcona Energy Group, a Belleville solar panel manufacturer contracted by EKE. The company filed for receivership in December, 2016.

None of the charges have been proven in court. The two accused men were scheduled to appear in court in Kapuskasing, March 19.

EKE is owned by the Town of Kapuskasing. It was established in 2011 to take advantage of favourable renewable power rates offered by the province and dived into the creation of solar and hydro-electric generation projects in partnership with other communities.

Back in 2013, EKE approached Kirkland Lake with a proposal to establish a solar project on land provided by the municipality. The idea was to sell generated power back onto the provincial grid under the government's Feed-in Tariff (FIT) 3 program.

The partnership agreement created a corporation, Kirkland Lake Solar Project, a joint venture partnership between EKE (49.9 per cent) and the Town of Kirkland Lake (50.1 per cent)

The plan remains to establish three 500-kilowatt projects on municipal property in the Archer Drive business park at a cost of $7.9 million.

Hass said the town has placed no money down on the project, which is a basic turnkey arrangement with EKE.

The agreement was for the energy company to apply for the FIT contract, handle the project paperwork, and a third-party technology partner would...

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