Competition is brewing for New Scotland’s bid into solar energy, with a second company claiming it could offer even more savings annually on electricity bills.
The New Scotland Town Board on Wednesday, May 14, heard Apex Solar Power’s proposal to provide solar energy to lower the town’s electricity bills through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The proposal included building a 250,000-watt system, which was almost double the size of the prior proposal. Apex estimated the larger system would save the town around $373,000 over 20 years.
About 1,000 photovoltaic panels would be installed on less than a 1-acre under the proposal and generate more than 260,000 kWh, which would cover the town’s annual usage.
Doug Underhill, solar energy broker for Apex, said he learned the town was looking into solar energy through his mother, who lives in Slingerlands, reading an article in The Spotlight on Monolith Solar Associates’ recent presentation to the board.
Underhill said he contacted Town Supervisor Tom Dolin on what his Queensbury-based company could offer “above and beyond” competitors.
Savings are projected to increase each year, which is similar to other solar energy proposals through a PPA. The first year the town is estimated to save almost $7,500, with the 20th year yielding more than $31,600 in savings.
If the town entered into a PPA with Apex, the company would cover installation and maintenance costs. The company would provide solar energy to the town and sell electricity produced at a discounted rate.
Underhill said the well field at the Winnie Lane pump house would be the prime location to install solar panels, but the transformer would need to be upgraded for a full-build out. The company is obtaining a quote for the town to upgrade the transformer.
The panels would be ballast-mounted, low to the ground. Costs would “increase significantly” with a pole-mounted system, according to Ben Sopczyk, solar executive of Apex. A ballast-mounted system would also allow for the panels to be more easily moved.
“If something were to happen, they are not rooted and cemented into the ground through pillars,” Sopczyk said. “They are just weighted down essentially.”
Sopczyk said solar panels could even be installed outside of the town, and the energy generated could be credited to the town. After 20 years, the panels would be left on-site.
“Then, you could actually produce all the power that the town would need and see larger monetary gains,” Sopczyk said. “The tax incentives that the government has provided is really what makes solar affordable for residential and commercial entities.”
If the panels are outside of the town, then it could not take ownership of the panels after the 20-year contract ended.
“At the end of the lease term, we are not going to come back and get the solar system,” Sopczyk said.
Underhill said if all the meters are under the same name, then the town receives the credits.
The New York State Energy Research Development Authority provides rebates for installing solar panels, but several industry representatives have said the funding is continually declining. How much a company pays to install a system affects what the town is charged for the energy.
“Solar is just a small part of what NYSERDA does, but it’s allowing for energy conservation to really be more widespread and have filtered into communities to allow people to be more self-sufficient and help support the grid,” Sopczyk said. “The less power that a power plant is producing and transporting miles upon miles to this location means less line loss, less strain on the grid itself.”
The Town Board did not take any action at the meeting.
Monolith had proposed installing a system generating 158,175 kWh annually across three sites.