Southampton Town taxpayers can save millions on energy bills with solar farm deal

Southampton Town has awarded a Boston company a contract to build a 4.5 megawatt photovoltaic plant on top of a former landfill under a deal that could provide millions of dollars in energy rebates to some residents.

The city council voted 5-0 last week on a 20-year contract for the Kearsarge Energy Limited Partnership to lease the land on top of the limited landfill in the North Sea and build the plant there. The company was chosen because of its experience in running similar projects throughout the Northeast, according to a city announcement.

“Many residents of our community have wanted the benefits of solar energy but could not access those benefits for several reasons – shady roofs, structural issues, etc.,” said Councilor John Bouvier in the press release. “This project brings renewable energy resources into the community with direct benefits for our residents and at no cost to the residents.”

Work is expected to begin in November and be completed a year later. The company’s proposal estimates the project could save Southampton property owners in the program a total of $ 2.4 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.

Under the agreement, Kearsarge will pay the city $ 60,000 the first year of the lease, with a 2% increase each year thereafter. But what is perhaps the biggest benefit of the deal is a 10% energy credit that the city can distribute to an estimated 1,100 taxpayers, said Deputy Administrator Frank Zappone.

“Ten percent on a monthly basis over the course of a year is a month of free electricity,” he said. “It’s not a bad deal.”

City officials have not decided who is eligible for the benefit, but Zappone said senior citizens and veterans could be a priority.

The project, known as the Community Distributed Generation, is under the regulatory framework of a state program known as Community Choice Aggregation. The program allows municipalities to make wholesale energy purchases through contracts with third-party suppliers.

The city will also receive an estimated one-time payment of $ 25,000 from Joule Assets Inc., the city’s Community Choice administrator, as part of the contract with Kearsarge. Joule will be responsible for customer acquisition, registration and management.

Lynn Arthur, CEO of Peak Power Long Island, a non-profit company that has advised Southampton on the program, said the city is awaiting a decision from the Public Service Commission that would allow it to expand its Community Choice Aggregation program vigorously.

“Community Choice Aggregation is one of, if not the most powerful tools in the state’s arsenal to achieve the goals of clean energy and climate protection,” the city’s petition to the PSC said.

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