Torrington leases land for installation of solar array

The Register Citizen | Ben Lambert
May 4, 2016

The city is aiming to bring in revenue from a currently unused piece of land and provide for the production of renewable energy. The City Council approved having a capped landfill become the site of a solar array Monday.

The council voted to authorize Mayor Elinor Carbone to lease the property at 105 Vista Drive to GRE GACRUX LLC., otherwise known as Greenskies Renewable Energy, a Middletown-based company.

Under the terms of the prospective agreement between the two parties, Greenskies will install, operate and maintain an array of solar panels on the property for the next 20 years. In return, the municipal government will receive $1.9 million over the life of the agreement.

This agreement was struck as part of a request for proposals organized by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to expedite renewable energy projects on state brownfield sites.

According to city Public Works Director Jerry Rollett, the project was submitted to DEEP before this May 4 — the deadline for applications under this RFP.

DEEP, according to Rollett, will determine whether to move forward with the project by mid-summer.

If the agency does not give the go-ahead for this project under this current RFP effort, Rollett said the city may pursue the agreement with Greenskies anyhow, if it is deemed beneficial after adjusting for the change in circumstances.

Rollett said this is the third effort by the city to bring a solar project to fruition on this piece of property.

The first two, he said, were based on virtual net-metering, which, as defined on the DEEP website, “allows customers who operate behind-the-meter generation... to assign surplus production from their generator to other metered accounts.”

City officials met with five bidders hoping to create projects for the Vista Drive site. The four that were not chosen, according to Carbone, incorporated virtual net-metering.

“As far as the other responses, interviews and bids, this was the most attractive,” said Carbone. “The others entailed or involved, just as Jerry mentioned, the virtual net-metering, purchasing of the electricity, which we didn’t feel would be in the best interest of the city.”

According to Carbone, leasing the land, instead of going with a virtual net-metering contract, would allow the city some protection against potential fluctuations in the market over the years to come.

The city is hoping to pursue further projects to take place on the property at 105 Vista Drive, according to Rollett, as this solar array installation will only use a portion of the site.