Solar project earns state bid

Energy company wants to install panels in Beacon Falls

This rendering shows the preliminary layout for proposed solar panels on town-owned land at 411 Lopus Road in Beacon Falls. Jordan Energy, a New York-based company, wants to install the panels through the state’s Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) Program. –CONTRIBUTED

This rendering shows the preliminary layout for proposed solar panels on town-owned land at 411 Lopus Road in Beacon Falls. Jordan Energy, a New York-based company, wants to install the panels through the state’s Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) Program. –CONTRIBUTED

BEACON FALLS — A New York-based energy company has cleared an initial hurdle towards installing solar panels on town-owned land on Lopus Road.

Jordan Energy founder and CEO Bill Jordan announced at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting that his Troy, N.Y.-based company won a bid through 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 megawatt hour of power generated. The company bid $42.78 per megawatt hour, which is expected to total $296,465 over the 15 year life of the program, Jordan said.

Jordan Energy wants to install solar panels — at no cost to the town — at the site of the wastewater treatment plant at 411 Lopus Road. Based on early projections, Jordan said, his company is looking to install 684 solar panels.

Jordan Energy would then become the town’s third-party electricity supplier. If the town agrees to sign up with Jordan Energy it will pay 14 cents per kilowatt hour the first year with 2 percent increases every subsequent year of the deal, according to Jordan.

Jordan estimated the solar panels could generate 76 percent of the electricity the town uses. He said the town paid 18.1 cents per kilowatt hour in 2014 and the price increased 5.86 percent to 19.27 cents per kilowatt hour this year. He estimated the town would save $850,974 over a 20-year period based on the current estimate of a 5-percent yearly increases.

Jordan said the amount companies receives under the state program has gone done each year since its inception in 2012 because the price of solar panels in the state have fallen.

The state awarded approximately $100 per megawatt hour in 2012, which is more than twice what was awarded this year. The state is scheduled to stop awarding credits under the program in 2018.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik felt if the town is going to take part in the program it should do it this year.

“We’re following a nice descending path, which shows the program is working but it means striking now, while the opportunity for a good savings is still there because in two years it goes away,” Bielik said. “Striking now and getting that price is in our best interest.”

Bielik pointed out that the proposed panels wouldn’t interfere with upgrades planned at the treatment plant.

“They were very careful about making sure there was no impact on any of the proposed upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant. All of the available land that may be necessary for that is completely unimpeded by anything we are talking about here,” Bielik said.

The board is expected to discuss moving forward with Jordan Energy either at a special meeting this month or its November meeting.

The board can choose to enter into a 20-, 25-, or 30-year contract with Jordan Energy. Once the contract runs out the town can request Jordan Energy remove the panels at no cost to the town or can purchase them for a $1 buyout, Jordan said.

If the selectmen agree to move forward with the project, Jordan Energy would still need to receive approvals from land use boards in town. If the project moves forward as planned it will be completed by October 2016, Jordan said.