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Committee to Consider Solar Projects to Power the Municipality

The committee issued a Request for Proposals to determine what properties are viable and how much projects would cost

The township may consider solar projects to power public places such as the Municipal Building and its parks after issuing a Request for Proposals.

“It would help our tax dollars,” Committeeman Dave Most said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to catch some revenue, and I think that’s rare in municipalities.”

Tom Brys, vice president of Renewable Energy for Birdsall Engineering, encouraged the township committee at last week’s meeting to pursue renewable energy.

Approximately two weeks ago, Gov. Chris Christie signed Senate bill 1925, which was originally crafted to address the oversupply of solar renewable energy credits, Brys said.

“Solar renewable energy credits are the key component for financing and subsidizing the price of solar and ultimately is a fundamental investment tool,” he said.

Previously, there was an oversupply in the renewable energy certificates market and the ability to finance projects was stymied, he said.

The Senate bill addressed oversupply by increasing requirements through the renewable portfolio standard, he said. The standard is a percentage of all the electric energy delivered in New Jersey is required to be generated by either solar electric or offset by purchasing a solar renewable energy certificate.

“That creates the appetite, that creates the demand for solar renewable energy certificates and ultimately stabilizes the market,” Brys said.

Because of the bill, the market has been extended to 2028 rather than 2026, he said. It also issued an alternative compliance payment, what energy suppliers in New Jersey have to pay for every megawatt that they don’t deliver with renewable energy or by offsetting with solar renewable energy credits.

The payment used to start at $711 and is now at approximately $593, he said.

“It serves as a ceiling,” he said, adding that previously, the projects were used as moneymaking machines rather than for the purpose of serving the customers or relieving strain on the grid.

“They capped the alternative compliance payment so renewable energy payments won’t be like a license to print money for outside investors,” he said.

Now those who implement large-scale solar projects must consult the Board of Public Utilities, he said.

“So the program is redirecting its attention now to its roots, which is alleviating grid congestion and ultimately helping electric ratepayers in New Jersey,” he said.

There is also now Net Metering Aggregation, which allows electric customers who generate their own electricity using solar energy to bank excess electricity on the grid, usually in the form of kilowatt-hour (kWh) credits.

“Lacey Township has a unique set of circumstances that many municipalities in New Jersey have. There’s available space that’s not necessarily usable for other purposes” he said.

Municipalities can now take power from a solar project and deliver it to the township buildings, streetlights and overall operation, he said. Lacey Township could potentially develop and project and offset the entire electric demand for the municipality for 15 to 20 years, although the project could have a 30-year life.

“Now that this legislation is passed, it’s our recommendation that the township consider re-evaluating the properties and electric accounts and develop a strategy to move forward so the town can be in the position to take advantage of the early enrollment for the Net Metering Aggregation Program,” Brys said.

The program, which should be established in three to six months, is on a first come, first serve basis, he said. There’s a push to have projects online before next summer.

“There’s not a tremendous amount of work that has to be done but there are some decisions to be made, there’s some financial analyses that needs to be performed, there’s some physical analysis that needs to be taken,” he said. “We really need to get a final idea as to what the capabilities are, what the constraints are and what kind of opportunity the township has. It could potentially be an opportunity for the township to generate revenue.”

Before the senate bill passed, evaluation for each potential solar site was $10,000. Now it’s approximately $2,000, he said.

To determine which sites are candidates is several hundred dollars, he said. Once a site is found to be viable, the company would do further inspections and analyses.

Birdsall is currently evaluating four municipalities. But, the company consulted for more than 2,600 different locations across 112 municipalities. Approximately 50 will be taking the steps towards Net Metering Aggregation, he said.

“That’s why we’re here. Lacey Township is incredibly important to us. This was the highest priority,” he said. “We’ve been around this road a few times (with the township) where we new there was potential here but we didn’t want to start generating cost until we knew there was an opportunity to recoup those.”

Properties that could be considered would be measured in acres and must be able to sustain land clearing or replacement, he said. The first permitted Department of Environmental Protection project was actually in a retention basin.

Preferably, the areas for potential use should be condensed and close to where the power is going to be delivered, he said.

“Now’s the time to act,” Mayor Mark Dykoff said, adding that the township already has some properties in mind. Finnegers Farm, for example, has five acres that could generate power for Clune Park.

Most encouraged the committee to move forward on the application process. The township doesn’t have to bond for an entire project right now but should lock into the application since the program is on a first come, first serve basis, he said.

“For me, this is a win for all the residents of Lacey Township because the more solar we have to offset the electric costs obviously we’re not spending those expenditures in our budget by reducing our budget,” Most said.

If the township decides to pursue a renewable energy project, they could finance the venture, Brys said. There are several options such as third party financing or a land lease. But Lacey Township could potentially see a 90 percent cut in its electric bill.

With Oyster Creek Generating Station closing in 2019, the township needs to look to alternative sources, resident Tim O'Connor said. 

"I think we need to push big time with what that gentleman from Birdsall was discussing; to push solar collectors every place that we can get them," he said. "We have a lot of parking lots. We should utilize those parking lots. I'm glad to see that we're moving in a positive direction."

The committee issued the RFP to receive proposals that would give the township a better idea of viability, cost and how the Committee can fund any projects, Dykoff said.

proud August 15, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Let's hope the taxpayers don't get ripped off for another eight million dollars. Don't forget the lie known as the "consecutive years of zero percent tax increase"
kane hoefling August 15, 2012 at 09:40 PM
How long will it take to pay back the cost of the investment and will be before the equipment needs to be replaced
proud August 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM
The same contractor installed the solar panels for the Lacey school district has installed solar systems in other districts for no cost to the taxpayer. He collects the money from the SREC's. Not our school distirict. They choose to tax the locals for 19 million and pocketed eight million to pay off their old debts. They said they didn't want to "give up the SREC revenue". Well, thanks,but I as a taxpayer really don't want to fund the school distrust going in the energy business. And, I certainly don't want to hear there has been a "zero percent tax increase", when they collected the money up front regardless of the terms of the solar referendum question. Hopefully, the Township Committee will be smart enough not to bond is into oblivion with huge capital outlays like the school board did.
Silver dollar August 16, 2012 at 12:05 AM
proud . Very well said . Thank you.
proud August 16, 2012 at 12:35 AM
You're quite welcome Mr Moss.
makemyday August 16, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Has anyone heard anymore about the state investigation with the school solar loan?
proud August 16, 2012 at 02:18 AM
As of June the staties were still investigating the fact that the school district pocketed eight million dollars to pay old debt regardless of what was specifically voter approved in the referendum question for the solar project.
makemyday August 16, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Thanks for the update, proud.
proud August 16, 2012 at 07:18 AM
Welcome
GB Shore August 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Cost id TBD. The useful life of a solar farm is 30 years before you have to deal with that. The issue I have that is right in frontof everyone is the fact that this industry is NOT cost effective to stand on its own. It requires help from Federal and State funding, i.e., we the taxpayers are indirectly funding these initiatives. We do not even know if this is viable or susutainable for the long term. In every other business I know of, there is something called Research and Development. The way this whole solar game is being played is that the taxpayers are the R&D funding source. the reason Lacey and others have not pushed ahead up to this point is for the reasons discussed in the article...prices went WAY down and the cost to implement solar had a very bad ROI. Now, with the State stepping in, they are artificially propping up the sell price and here we go again, MANDATING to the power companies that a certain percentage of their power usage into the grid HAS to be from these SREC's. So what we really have here in fact, is an industry that is getting its R&D funding from the public and legislation from the BUP that is mandating to the industry that they HAVE to participate and use the SREC's so there is a market for them....regardless of what the utility is doing on its own with regards to Solar....which frankly, is where all this belongs....
GB Shore August 16, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Franky, I expected nothing less from the town committee to just jump on this both feet in the water before they really did some due diligence on this. There are MANY questions so before Most, Dykoff and the rest of them jump in the water, they should be saying we like this or that but we need to perform due diligence. It is more than getting an RFP out and listening to what Birdsall says. There is a cap on the life of a solar farm and they need to be thinking long term here not just short term. I smell this as another, let's do this now and worry about outcomes long term down the road....
grace August 16, 2012 at 02:09 PM
well said proud...lets hope they do not jump in head first! i agree with you...hope the board is listening
an ex fox cult member August 16, 2012 at 06:56 PM
yes its so horrible lacey schools are paying for their own energy needs as well as having new windows and even a boiler paid for by this program. the contractor was crooked so according to proud, moss , simpleton truth and the ever rabid jenny jones we should now throw the baby out with the bath water. its amazing how negative all of you are. with the over abundance of ideas coming from people like you theres no reason why any of you shouldnt run for committee member.
grace August 16, 2012 at 07:19 PM
i am so sorry if my comments make me sound like a rabid animal..i am ashamed if that is true..please except my aplology ex fox....i will admit i do not know enough about solar enery but i am for it and wind also i like the use of natural ways to make energy... once again i sincerely apologize for coming across that way
GB Shore August 16, 2012 at 07:46 PM
I provided some very factual details about solar above. It is not something that we should just jump into just because it's the new thing and not because the Federal government has pissed away billions. It is because it is the right and prudent thing to do, if you believe that this is just like running a business...which it IS. As far as being negative about the BOE, let's just say that if you just looked at all that has gone on, and you want to be totally honest and objective, you'd not be saying what you said fox. The fact is that this BOE at every opportunity tries to tell the public that they have kept a tax increase from happening. The fact is that they have used this $8 million to keep their spending hidden. They are being investigated because the State thinks that there is something to look into. So spare us with the "if you know so much you should run" theory. Not everyone can and not everyone has the time. That does not preclude those of us who hold them up to scrutiny. Sitting on a committee does not exclude you from having to answer to the public about OUR money and how it is being managed.
makemyday August 16, 2012 at 08:03 PM
My, my ex-fox, as a taxpayer i was wondering if anyone heard anymore about the school solar funding. I hadnt heard anything in a while. If that upsets you, i wonder if you have any involvement or maybe you're very stressed. Take it easy!
proud August 16, 2012 at 09:26 PM
The schools aren't paying for anything. We are--over and over and over again. That assumes you pay taxes ex fox. Do you know what you voted on for the funding of the solar project? Do you vote foxy? Because if you do, or did, you should know that the referendum said NOTHING about the district pocketing eight million buckaroos for the bonding that mortgages ours and future generations.
Jamie Lee Curtis August 17, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Looks like ex fox brought out the looney element in town. GB who says solar is a new thing when it was ronnie reagan who tore the solar panels off the roof of the whitehouse in 1980 TELLING AMERICA WE HAVE PLENTY OF OIL. simple truth and proud do the usual " you must be a bum who doesnt vote or pay taxes" thing they always do when confronted with the facts. i like ex fox voted for the solar project. we didnt pick the contractor the republican leadership of lacey did.
proud August 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Jamie Lee Curtis, are you trying to say that the republican leadership of Lacey selected a crooked contractor to remove solar panels from the whitehouse?
t p o c August 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Gb Shore is in favor of corp america fleecing the tax payers. How else would he condone subsidy for big oil, airlines etc dont forget the tax breaks and loop holes Gb shore thinks jpcl should be able to charge what ever they want. even though the are an monopoly Gb shore thinks they should be able to put any kind of power plant where ever they want except in his back yard. Funny I never saw on here gb shore complain once about govt subsidies to corp america but hes crying about subsidy for solar? try google searching solar street lights georgie then get back to us on the roi for the current street lights and the light bill for the town gerorgie your right wing is showing any idea how the 2% cap of raises for the town workers which Georgie aint really a 2 % capwhen you add it all up so much for the tools tool kit goting to be paid for? any idea where the money will come from when the town doesnt win the 936 tax appeals just saying
proud August 17, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I don't see where GB Shore has commented on any of these issues that you mention. Looks look your left wing is showing tpoc. Now, sit back and take a deep breath. Calm down a bit and take another swig of Kool Aid and read the article and comments again. Then you can address the topic at hand and not go off on a rambling soliloquy.
makemyday August 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM
@jamie lee curtis wanna-be: where in my posting have i called anyone a "bum"? Stick to the truth, you'll feel so much better! And Pres. Reagan is correct, we do have plenty of oil, its the current Dem. Pres Obama thats just about shut every energy source we have down from coal, nuke, natural gas and oil. Killing thousands of jobs along with it, but puts millions into " solar Solyndra" knowing full well it was close to going bankrupt. In other words like the saying goes, dont put all your eggs in one basket!
GB Shore August 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM
What I said is that we should properly vet this out...stop being selective in your criticism. My whole point is that we should not rush into it like the BOE did ....this whole $8 million dollar fiasco you conveniently leave out....you sound just like the BOE and Town Committee. I did not say solar was a bad idea, but when you look at the economics of it, it does not APPEAR to be able to stand on it's own legs...it needs State and Federal intervention. That is a BAD business model. So if you want to ignore those facts, then you are just not being objective Jamie Lee....
GB Shore August 18, 2012 at 01:03 PM
HA HA HA....funny how people can just write things about people especially when they are erroneous. TPOC, you totally miss the point, lust like Jamie Lee. There is a difference between tax credits etc. for businesses and providing subsidies for an industry. the solar industry is having trouble standing on its own legs and if it was left to run its course like any other industry/business, it would fail. So if you want to have a debate, let's stop with the false accusations and innuendos. Maybe we can start with you identifying who you are so I know who I am talking to, since you seem to know me. gbshore@comcast.net. Let's see if you can stand behind you words and stop hiding behind your keyboard. We can have an honest discussion. I'm not going to do it on here with you. One thing I do know about you is that you certainly are a lefty lib....

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