July 3, 2020

Recommended Seekonk Town Solar Energy Development

Posted

It is recommended that the Town of Seekonk develop a Solar Energy Project
at the old landfill behind the American Legion to generate revenue for the town at no cost to the Seekonk taxpayers.

After five months of study including discussions with solar energy developers the Seekonk Energy Committee reported to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) Meeting on May 15, 2019 with a recommendation to develop a Solar Energy Project at the old landfill behind the American Legion. It was further recommended that this could be done via a turnkey lease agreement with a developer. Based on modeling by one developer it was estimated that the Town could receive $1,000,000 in revenue over 30 years. In addition, the Town would receive a discounted rate on all electricity generated by this project.

The below table summarizes estimated lease agreements for the landfill ground mounted and school rooftop mounted panels. A model layout for solar panels at the landfill is attached.

Location: Landfill behind American Legion -  High School Rooftop -  Middle School Rooftop -  Martin School Rooftop -  Total

First Year Payment: $28,000 -  $15,000 -  $7,500 -  $7,200 -  $58,000

30 Year Payments: $1,000,000 -  $550,000 -  $280,000 -  $260,000 -  $2,100,000

DC Power Capacity: 1960 -  690 -  310 -  290 -  3250

SMART Base Rate Block: 8 -  8 -  8 -  8

Location Adder Landfill -  Building Mount -  Building Mount -  Building Mount

Location Block 1 -  1 -  1 -  1

Offtake Adder Community Solar -  Community Solar -  Community Solar -  Community Solar

Offtake Block 9 -  9 -  9 -  9

The following notes apply to the table:
1. These estimates are non-binding but serve to identify the commercial components for lease negotiations. These commercial components are derived from assumed SMART base rate and adder blocks which are subject to change.
2. The typical term of the lease would be 20 years with options for two 5-year extension,
3. The Town can expect to receive quarterly payments.
4. Typically, there will be a fixed percentage for an annual payment escalator
5. The Town Utility is National Grid
6. The Aiken School was omitted due to a miscommunication but could have rooftop solar panels.
7. The Energy Committee has been assured that solar panels can be mounted at the landfill without disturbing the cap seal. Structural analysis will be done to assure that roofs can hold the panel load. Typically, no reinforcement is required.

This may seem too good to be true but the solar developers can do this because they get state and federal subsidies and state and federal tax breaks that are not available to the Town.

Furthermore, State Law, Chapter 25, Section 11I, makes it easy for municipal government agencies to execute solar energy projects. Per this Section the Town does not need to go for competitive bids but rather use a Request For Qualifications process to select a vendor. Alternatively, the Town can use a competitive bid process.

Two things we should learn from the COVID-19 pandemic are: (1) our complex society and economy is very fragile and (2) dire scientific predictions can and likely will come true. The climate scientists are predicting that the effects of climate change will make the pandemic seem mild. Furthermore, scientist predict that we need to take many radical actions in the next decade to prevent going over a tipping point from which there is no return on the climate crises.

Let's be proactive to mitigate the predicted climate crisis. Not reactive as we have been forced to be with the predicted pandemic. It is going to take a lot more than a few acres of solar panels to avoid the climate crises but we have an opportunity to reap this low hanging fruit at no cost to the taxpayers. It will even provide some funds that we can re-invest in other energy saving items such as efficient heat pump HVAC systems for the town buildings.

This is a win, win, win, win: The taxpayers win. The environment wins. Our children and grandchildren win. The economy wins because it creates green jobs.

The Seekonk Energy Committee hopes that the BOS will act decisively now to execute the recommended Town Solar Energy Project so that the Town does its part to mitigate the climate crises and stimulate the local economy while reaping local benefits from the state and federal taxes that Seekonk citizen are paying.

Charles Beauchamp, Chair
Seekonk Energy Committee


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