BEACON FALLS — The town may soon be seeing green when it comes to energy costs.
The Board of Selectman unanimously voted at a special meeting Feb. 16, with little discussion, to enter into a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Troy, N.Y.-based Jordan Energy. The agreement is pending legal review.
Jordan Energy, a solar energy company, plans to install solar panels on town property where the public works building and wastewater treatment plant are on Lopus Road. The project is part of the state’s Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) Program.
Under the program, the state pays companies, such as Jordan Energy, a set rate for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of power generated. Jordan Energy will receive a credit of $42.78 for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of power, Jordan Energy Director of Commercial Sales Adam Burkitt said.
The company then sells the energy it generates back to the town at a lower rate than what Eversource Energy charges, Burkitt explained. The town can choose up to five accounts to use the solar- generated energy, he said. All the accounts have to be town-owned buildings.
According to Burkitt, Eversource Energy’s rates are expected to start at 16.5 cents a kilowatt hour and rise to 20 cents a kilowatt hour in five years. Rates are projected to continue to rise at 4.5 percent annually, he said.
Under the contract with Jordan Energy, the town will pay 12.7 cents per kilowatt hour in the first year. That will fall to 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour in year three of the contract. Then the rate will increase two percent each year.
If the solar panels generate more electricity than the town uses in a month, the credit is carried over, Burkitt said.
According to Burkitt, the town is projected to save $928,735 over the 20-year life of the contract.
The number is based on estimates of how much energy costs will increase over that time.
“It’s a great economic opportunity for Beacon Falls,” Burkitt said.
The company will build a 297 kilowatt capacity solar array at the site and maintain it for no cost to the town, Burkitt said. After the agreement has ended, the town can either enter into another five- or 10-year contract with Jordan Energy, have the array dismantled at no cost, or purchase the array from Jordan Energy for $1 and continue to generate electricity, Burkitt said.
The project isn’t a done deal, however. Although Jordan Energy has been awarded a credit by the state, Burkitt said the state has not yet fully funded the program. Although the board has approved going ahead with the project, it is still contingent on state funding.