Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solar Power Plan Supported By Council

The Common Council authorized Mayor Drew to negotiate and sign an agreement with Greenskies, Inc, to build solar systems on City property and sell the electricity to the City at a rate of 6¢ per kilowatt hour. This is less than half of the cost that the City is currently paying.

Greenskies is a company founded by Robert Landino, whose Centerplan Construction company is the developer and one of the tenants of the Landmark Square building, which houses the Rite Aid Pharmacy near the south end of Main Street. Landino told the Council that Greenskies has successfully put in photovoltiac panels for Walmarts, Target, and other companies in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Landino said that when the State Legislature passed Public Act 11-80, it authorized municipalities to contract with for-profit companies to purchase renewable energy. By collecting all of the State and Federal subsidies for renewable energy, Greenskies is able to make a profit while charging municipalities considerably less than they currently pay.

The proposal is for Middletown to purchase 3 megawatt hours (MWh) from Greenskies. The initial installation of solar panels would be on the capped landfill in the north end. These panels would supply energy to the city-owned Remington Rand building, which uses about 1/3rd of 1 MWh.

Greenskies hopes that solar panels can be installed on or near other city buildings as well. If not, then further use of solar energy would require that the city be allowed to use "virtual metering", it would have to be able to generate electricity in one location, send that electricity into the grid, and get credit for it at another location where the electricity is actually used. For example, the city could allow Greenskies to install solar panels on city property at the edge of town and "use" that electricity at City Hall.

John Hall, who works on energy issues for the city, said that it was not clear whether "virtual metering" would require the user to pay all of the transmission and distribution costs of the electricity. If so, the cost to the city would be more than 6¢, but it would stil be cheaper than current rates.

Landino made it clear that he was working closely with state legislators to influence legislation so that Greenskies could make money buying solar panels and selling electricity to municipalities. He was hopeful that the legislature would fix what he considered minor technical issues with the laws when it reconvenes in March.

Councilman Todd Berch elicited from Landino that he needed about 5 buildable acres to house enough solar panels for 1 MWh. Councilwoman Hope Kasper questioned City Planner Bill Warner about where the city might have 15 acres of buildable land available, for the contract of 3 MWh. Warner told the Council that the City has several options, but said that some of them would likely require the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve changes to the zoning code. He did not specify where the land might be.

Landino told the Council that he needed to have the contract signed before the end of the year, in order to take advantage of a Federal tax rebate program. He acknowledged the concerns of several members that they were being rushed into making a decision. He explained the last minute nature of the proposal by saying that the State Legislature did not act until June, and he decided to wait until after hotly contested municipal elections before approaching the City. Councilman Tom Serra reassured Landino that The Council didn't mind, "It's like studying for an all-nighter at college exams."

The Mayor said that a lawyer specializing in energy issues, Matt Ranelli, of the firm Shipman and Goodwin, had provided advice and would participate in the negotiations. Ranelli has suggested a number of safeguards for the City to include in the contract. according to Mayor Drew.

The Council approved the authorization without any dissenting votes.


Anonymous said...

I love this town.

Anonymous said...

And the resulting savings will be respent where?

Anonymous said...

Hopefully spent of further energy conservation improvements.

Anonymous said...

Amazing deal, 6 cents for 20 years in 20 years conventional energy will be at 32 cents and we will still be locked at 6 cents.

Anonymous said...

improve secondary education with the savings:o)

Anonymous said...

improve secondary education with the savings:o)

EnergyReviewsInfo said...

Hi Fishmuscle SHD, -- MIT's 3D Vertical Structures Solar Cells would be worth looking into: Well Google's 94 Million USD Tuesday is certainly a serious commitment to Green Renewable Energy. However, the Solar and Wind Technology is moving along so rapidly that by the time they start this project it will be outdated. By the time they complete the project they will be several advancements behind. I already know they are behind, because they mentioned Flat Panels. MIT has developed 3D Vertical Structures Solar Cells 50%more effecient. Flat Panels must be Unobstructed Overhead and function poorly under Cloudy and Rainy conditions. 3D Vertical Structures are way more Space Effecient, are only slightly affected by weather conditions, can be Sprayed Onto most Vertical Structures or Forms. For Example: On-Site Applications such as a Picket Fence can provide a Home with Solar Energy. Think about that for a second. This can be made to blend into the surroundings. Stanford University has made progress in Solar Energy Storage with an Electrode they've developed. Univ of Tex Austin has been working with the Organic Plastic - Pentacene - from which twice as many Electrons can be Extracted and can be installed as ordinary rooftop panels..

solar pv panels swansea said...

Thanks for the information, I have been looking at some of the publications from MIT on their new solar panel designs it looking really promising for the industry. This could really redevelop the green technology industry. Their new flexible PV cells could really be introduced into roof titles making all new build roof PV cell tiles.