Photovoltaic array at old North Haven dump to save town millions

Published January 01, 2012
By Ann DeMatteo, Assistant Metro Editor 

NORTH HAVEN - The old town landfill soon will have a new addition that is expected to save the town millions of dollars: photovoltaic solar panels.

The panels should be installed and start working for the town by the end of 2012, said Bob Landino, chairman of Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC of Middletown, a developer of photovoltaic projects.

First Selectman Michael J. Freda has contracted with Greenskies on behalf of the town. The agreement would save the town $3.16 million over 20 years because the energy will be used in town buildings, he said.

The project will start with a one megawatt installation on roughly one acre, he said. The goal is to expand it in the future.

And as the new year begins, the town is entering into a new energy contract with Integrus, one of the electricity providers for United Illuminating Co.

Bids were sought and Integrus, the current supplier, made the low offer. The town is expected to save $1.14 million over three years because a lower kilowatt per hour rate was negotiated.

"The goal of the administration is to be a leader in renewable and cleaner energy resources," Freda said. "In an effort to further reduce costs over a longer period of time, we've worked out an arrangement to construct a solar panel field at the old landfill off Universal Drive and Sackett Point Road."

At some point, Freda said, he would like to see if it's possible to save energy for residents and businesses.

The project will be subject to approvals by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Freda said.

With Integrus, the town will pay 7.4 cents a kilowatt-hour, plus transmission charges. The current rate, with transmission charges, is 13.4 cents a killowatt-hour. With the solar project, the town would pay 6 cents a kilowatt-hour, Freda said. The charge will not go above 7 cents within the first eight years of the contract, he said.

Greenskies is the company that installed solar panels at the renovated Wilbur Cross Parkway rest stops in North Haven. Freda met Greenskies officials because of that project, and had extended conversations with them about how a property in town could be put into productive re-use with solar panels. The landfill was chosen.

The town won't have to spend any money on the project, and Greenskies will do the installation. Landino said Greenskies will have to seek certain bids from the state that would enable the company to receive "zero emissions renewable energy credits" so that it could sell electricity to North Haven.

The energy will get into town buildings either through a direct connection from the solar panels to the water treatment plant adjacent to the landfill, or through virtual net metering that would give Greenskies up to five meters on town-owned buildings, Landino said.

The town's UI bill would be credited by the amount of electricity generated by the solar installation and supplemented with a new bill at a lower rate, Landino said.

In March, Greenskies will submit a bid to the state to have UI pay for solar energy credits and if Greenskies' bid is approved, designing the panels will take place in late summer or early fall and they will be built by the end of 2012, Landino said.

Greenskies also has to seek a DEEP permit to build on a capped landfill.

Greenskies recently was the low bidder for selling energy to Connecticut Light & Power Co. through a five megawatt system in East Lyme.