Encourage Solar Power, Reduce Costs

Columbia County considers long-term solar power contract

March 25, 2018

Should Columbia County enter into a long-term agreement with East Light Partners to provide Solar Power to Columbia County as well as residents in the region? In spirit, I support these kind of projects, but I am still reviewing the specific details on this proposal.

The proposal is for a community solar project, where electricity generation is shared among multiple utility customers. The project would generate utility credits which would be applied to Columbia County’s account and the county would reimburse the provider at a lesser rate so the county would save 5 percent on electricity through the credit. That’s assuming the credit doesn’t go below the contractual floor price of $.06/credit. If that happened, the County would save less or possibly even lose money. The fiscal advantage of the plan largely rests on the long-term value of the electricity credits. It is reasonable to believe this will result in County savings, but I’m looking to consult with a few experts before committing.

The project would generate 5 MW of solar electricity. The County would have the option to purchase up to 40% of it. This is a potential opportunity for more savings while also getting power from a renewable source.

The company is seeking payments to the county, town, and school in lieu of paying increased taxes (PILOT) based on the NYSERDA guidelines. County PILOTs are issued through the County Industrial Development Agency (IDA).

The facility would be located south of Flanders in Greenport. The field is within the South bay watershed and, according to Gossips of Rivertown, is “Farmland of Statewide Significance.” Gossips also expressed concern that it would be visible from the Oliver Bronson House. The project would go before the Greenport Planning Board.

The project could potentially move forward with or without the county signing a business arrangement for solar credits and electricity purchase. We should compare this option with other solar possibilities.

Tell me what you think of the proposal. Contact me.