St-Isidore solar park inaugurated, dedicated to deceased landowner, father
Jacques Beauchesne was not only a property owner, but was a man with a vision for the development of solar energy in eastern Ontario. He was a farmer that enjoyed challenging himself, presenting himself with new projects.
This was the consensus among friends and family members of the now-deceased St-Isidore landowner, as 100 members of the community gathered at his farm on Friday, October 29 to attend a dedication ceremony of the new St-Isidore solar project.
"We're happy that his vision is being realized and dedicated in his memory today," said his daughters Véronique, Vanessa and Valérie Beauchesne, who addressed the crowd along with representatives of the solar energy company and several politicians.
The 10-megawatt solar project was developed by Ottawa-based EDF EN Canada and will be connected to the distribution grid through the Ontario Power Authority's Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), which has since been replaced by the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program.
Located on a farm near the intersection of County Road 10 and County Road 9, the site features 153,000 photovoltaic panels, and is one of five sites developed by EDF EN across eastern Ontario since 2009.
"[The sites] have all been constructed locally and with the support and contribution of local workers," explained Jon Kieran, the company's director of solar development. "St-Isidore A - this site - will contribute 10 megawatts AC of electrical energy to the distribution grid in your community, and this supplies enough to serve the peak energy demands of 3,000 homes in eastern Ontario."
As part of the dedication ceremony, Beauchesne's daughters unveiled a granite sundial that was dedicated in their father's memory, and later installed a solar panel on the project site itself.
Kieran discussed the importance of working together with residents and The Nation Municipality in the construction of the project: "I think by working together, EDF EN Canada made a sincere effort to accommodate the residents that live near the site, along with the municipality that in part helped with the construction. The project employed more than 200 people since the spring.
"It's people and it's teamwork that makes a good solar project truly great. We have a stellar group of people... and ambitious plans for solar and wind in Canada in the years ahead."
MPP Madeleine Meilleur and MPP Jean-Marc Lalonde stressed the need for solar energy projects in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell as a benefit to both its economic development and the long-term health of its citizens.
"These solar projects across the province are leaving, for our children and our grandchildren, a network of clean energy," said Meilleur. "We know there are many illnesses that you and I might suffer from nowadays as a result of polluting energies. We'll be able to reduce our dependence on coal... an energy that is not healthy and therefore, not sustainable.
"Also, many of you here today are business people, you own big farms, you understand what it means to have a blackout or when there's no electricity: your investment is at risk. What we want is to create an energy that is renewable, clean, healthy and reliable.
Lastly, Beauchesne's brother, Daniel, told the audience in an emotion-filled speech that Jacques would have been proud - on behalf of everyone - to see the progress of his solar project today.
"Just before he passed away, he said to me, 'Daniel, the only wish I want is to have my solar panels,'" he recalled.