Solar power plant helps film studio dream become a reality

NAFTC Studios' plan to open a state-of-the-art film studio in Lakeshore, Ontario is revitalized thanks to the inclusion of a 500 kW solar power plant. The proposed studio failed to meet provincial and municipal standards back in 2005 and the project was put on hold - until now.

Windsor, Ontario: NAFTC Studios' plan to open a state-of-the-art film studio in Lakeshore, Ontario is revitalized thanks to the inclusion of a 500 kW solar power plant.


The proposed studio failed to meet provincial and municipal standards back in 2005 and the project was put on hold - until now. The solar power plant helped the studio meet regional regulations and will provide a source of revenue.

"We struggled for the last few years," said Jim Shaban, CEO of NAFTC Studios. "We were hit by this economic tsunami and were trying to finance raw land in an area where there is no servicing."

Because of the Green Energy Act and Ontario's renewable energy feed-in tariff program, companies like NAFTC Studios can provide local communities with clean energy and help grow the economy, in often unforeseen ways.

Ontario's Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, expressed his surprise on Thursday at attending the opening of a facility benefiting from both renewable energy tariffs and movie production tax credits. "To see solar panels on the roof providing power is really remarkable. And frankly it's one of those unintended consequences (of the Green Energy Act)," he said.

The studio offers up to 33% in tax credits for film companies that do studio production and special effects outside of the Greater Toronto Area. These financial incentives are already attracting customers: Jeff Boulton of Dante Media Group and Sean McConville of Mach 2 Films both plan to move their offices to Windsor in the spring, when the first 50,000 sq. ft sound stage is set to open.

"We are going to pull up a curtain and invite America to come and film, work and be part of this community," said Shaban.

Construction of the studio and power plant, together with the burgeoning film industry will create jobs in a city that is still reeling from the mass shutdown of automotive production facilities. In October, Service Canada reported that Windsor-Sarnia's unemployment rate was 10.2 percent, the highest out of all the economic regions in Ontario.

The solar plant is a joint venture between North American Free Trade Consultants (NAFTC Studios), project developer ESEI Power and racking manufacturer Great Lakes Energy.
ESEI Solar will design, construct and maintain the power plant. The project will use German-made thin film solar modules and locally manufactured racking.

"We are proud to be a part of this new frontier as Ontario moves towards sustainable growth and economic diversification through renewable energy," said John Millson, president of Great Lakes Energy.

The NAFTC Studios project marks the beginning of a long-term partnership between ESEI Power and Great Lakes Energy. "We are looking forward to working with Great Lakes Energy because of their strong manufacturing capabilities and extensive experience managing solar power projects," said Lia Van Baalen, marketing co-ordinator for ESEI. "Ultimately, our strengths compliment theirs. We bring to the table our ability to deliver profitable turnkey solutions."

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