Pittsford mulls over solar project
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | February 23,2013
PITTSFORD — A Brandon solar energy company wants the town of Pittsford to consider installing solar arrays on town property.
A representative with Green Earth Energy, a renewable-energy company that is part of the McKernon Group, spoke with Pittsford officials this week, proposing a project that would install 25 solar arrays, each with 24 panels, on the unused land around the Florence pump station.
The solar arrays would track the sun and move accordingly, producing up to 147 kilowatts of power, said Jim Crawford, a representative with Green Earth Energy.
“The reason we are going with that 147 is that it matches closely with the consumption of power that the town has, what it will produce, as well as the permitting process,” Crawford said. “Anytime you go past 150 kilowatts, the permitting process becomes much more difficult.”
He said the Vermont-made arrays would be up to 17 feet tall, making no noise when the trackers move.
“The trackers are a good product, very efficient,” he said. “They will move. At nighttime they flatten out. A (global positioning system) controls them. ... At high winds they will flatten out.”
Crawford said the project would be connected to the Green Mountain Power grid, its output calculated through group net-metering. The project, with a 25-year agreement on the property, is estimated to cost $600,000.
“One of the nice aspects of the proposal is that there is no money up front from the town of Pittsford,” he said. “There is a financing company (Green Lantern Capital) within the state of Vermont, backed by several Vermont businesses and they are going to finance the project.”
Crawford said Green Lantern Capital would take a tax credit to make the finances work. He said the town, instead of paying electric bills, would get 10 percent savings from the production of electricity while the company gets the rest. After the project’s seventh year, the town would have the option to purchase the solar panels.
“(The town) would then receive the full benefit of the solar production,” he said.
The project, as proposed, would generate about $42,000 worth of energy a year, Crawford said, and the town should see that much savings on the electric bill.
Crawford said if the town does not purchase the project, after the 25-year property agreement Green Lantern Capital would have the option to continue the project or disassemble it.
Select Board members took no action on the project Wednesday, but said they would give it serious consideration.
Town Manager John Haverstock said the town has also been approached by a California solar company that would like to evaluate the town’s electric usage and make its own proposal.