But before any of this happens, the non-profit co-operative organization needs financial backers.
Sun Co-operative president Arik Theijsmeijer said the group needs at least 50 people to purchase $25 lifetime memberships so that it can apply for a 20-year power purchase contract with the province.
The co-operative is also asking people if they'd like to invest up to $1,000 in the venture, with a nine-per-cent return once things are up and running.
“For the next couple of years, that's to help us with the initial planning costs and getting a contract from the government,” Theijsmeijer said.
“Once we get that contract and we're ready to build, then there will be more longer-term ways to invest more money.”
After profits for investors are syphoned off, the idea is to invest any surplus money into a fund for environmental initiatives in the city, he said.
Theijsmeijer said he expects the earliest the government will issue a licence to SUN Co-operative will be this coming winter, and thinks it will take until 2015 to have any solar panels in place.
Beyond investors, Sun Co-operative is looking for individuals and businesses who are willing to offer up their roof for solar panel installation. Theijsmeijer said large roofs on commercial buildings would be best.
In terms of the solar project on Vale land, he said about 50 panels would be installed to begin with, although there's room for about 450.
Because they're on a flat area of land behind the berm on Big Nickel Mine Road, they won't be visible to drivers. The area is a slag pile that has been regreened using clay and grass seed.
He said Vale has been very supportive of the venture, and is willing to negotiate a lease for a nominal fee.
“We're focusing on projects we consider responsible in terms of land use, whether it's a rooftop or a brownfield or something like that, as opposed to forest or farm that could be used for other things,” Theijsmeijer said.
Those interested in learning more about the venture are invited to an Aug. 29 meeting, which takes places starting at 5 p.m. in the ReThink Green office, located at 176 Larch St., on the third floor.
“There seems to be a lot of interest, so I'm optimistic we're going to get some people coming out tonight and signing up and investing," he said.
For more information, visit www.suncooperative.com.