News

Brant continues green energy growth

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

PARIS – Brant Municipal Enterprises is sticking to its path of increasing revenues and accumulation of assets as it becomes a major player in building the county’s green energy and fibre-optics infrastructure.

“As BME’s third year of operation, 2016 represented a year of increasing stability in its business activities and earning,” Mayor Ron Eddy, chairman of BME told county council in the release of the corporation’s annual report.

“Last year, 2016, also saw a significant evolution in BME’s future focus with the creation of its first strategic plan and also the completion of its first major lighting retrofit project.”

BME is a wholly owned municipal corporation started in 2014 that operates at arm’s length from the county’s administration. It oversees two main business units: Brant Renewable Energy, which oversees solar energy projects for residential, commercial and institutional customers; and Brant Fibreoptics, which supplies lit-fibre-optic services to business, wholesale and institutional clients throughout area inside and outside the county.

Eddy noted in his report that BME completed another major green energy project in 2016 with a rooftop solar panel array on the Burford Community Centre. It was done in a partnership between the county and the Sustainability Brant Energy Co-operative Inc.

BME also received approval for a number of small Feed-In Tariff (FIT) projects approved by the Ministry of Energy for several clients, and planning is underway for the development of nearly two megawatts of green energy generation during 2017.

According to a financial statement provided to council, the corporation realized an increase in revenues across its two divisions last year. Brant Renewable Energy earned $2.57 million, an increase from $2.44 million in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Brant Fibreoptics division earned $416,470 last year, an increase from $384,102 over the previous year.

The parent firm also had other revenue of $38,010, up from $33,892.

Because of revenue streams, BME had net revenues of $3.03 million in 2016, up from $2.86 million in 2015. After a gross margin of $701,405 and indirect expenses of $413,238 were taken into account, the corporation had a net income of $251,021, up from $194,525 in 2015.

2016 also saw the release of the company’s strategic plan to guide the organization over the next five years.

According to a report presented by CEO Michael Bradley and general manager Bruce Noble, the plan has four main objectives:

• Facilitate the renewable generation and conservation of energy through the building of turn-key green energy projects for clients, becoming a strategic equity partner in projects, and helping the county because a “net-zero” municipalities by 2020.

• Build a globally connected community by undertaking strategic fibre-optic throughout the county, and acting as an architect of partnerships to connect all residents of the county to high-speed telecommunications.

• Create a prosperous county by undertaking an employment land (industrial or commercial) project and acting as an agent for repurposing surplus county lands.

• Maintain a resilient organization by developing a talent acquisition plan with a focus on project management, business planning and finance.

BME’s portfolio of FIT projects includes a 500-kilowatt waterpower project at the Penman’s Dam in Paris, a 100-kilowatt rooftop solar project at the Scotland Community Centre, a 500-kilowatt solar project at Adidas in the Brant 403 Business Park, and a 300-kilowatt rooftop solar project for a private client near St. George.

In the Brant Fibreoptics division, BME continued to bring industrial, commercial and institutional clients into its expanding network last year. Shortly after the completion of the new north Paris overhead water storage tank, Brant Fibreoptics deployed a microwave device that expanded private wireless connections in the area.

Last year also witnessed a landmark announcement that the SWIFT (Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology) project had obtained funding through federal and provincial grants.

“BME has been active in the SWIFT discussion since its inception, and accordingly it is well positioned to capitalize on this evolving opportunity,” said Bradley.

“The SWIFT program will allow fibre-optic providers to pre-qualify to obtain funding for an expansion of fibre-optics into unserved areas. With a number of areas throughout the county still underserved, and with BME owning one of the largest fibre-optic backbone networks in the area, there is significant potential for it to leverage these external funds to further expand its network."

MMarion@postmedia.com

@expMarion