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Madison County expects solar array to generate $3M in savings over 25 years

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

A 2.4 megawatt solar array in the town of Lincoln is supplying energy to the Madison County office building and the county jail utility accounts, according to a news release from Reading, Pennsylvania–based RER Energy Group. Madison County agreed to a 25-year power-purchase agreement and anticipates saving about $3 million over the life the agreement, the energy company said. Photo credit: RER Energy Group

LINCOLN — Madison County government anticipates saving about $3 million in energy costs over the next quarter century using a newly installed solar array in the town of Lincoln.

The county is using the 2.4 megawatt solar array to supply energy to the county office building and county jail utility accounts, Reading, Pennsylvania–based RER Energy Group said in a news release.

Madison County is purchasing the power that the solar array produces, says Scott Ingmire, director of the Madison County planning department.

“We anticipate saving about $3 million over the course of the project … somewhere in the neighborhood of $140,000 to $150,000 on an annual basis,” says Ingmire. He spoke with CNYBJ on Dec. 4.

“The array will produce about 73 percent of our electrical-energy needs. As a result of that, there are considerable savings to be had. We’ve agreed to a 25-year power-purchase agreement, which fixes our energy costs for that 73 percent over the next 25 years,” he says.

The savings “come at no cost” to the county or its residents, RER Energy Group said in a news release. Madison County didn’t pay for the installation or maintenance of the array. It agreed to buy the power the array produces under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA), the firm added.

“We’re pleased with it, so far … It’s been working well,” says Ingmire. “We’re understanding how the credits and power are all working together on our National Grid bills.” 

When Madison County started the project, it anticipated the project would cover about 60 percent of the county’s energy needs, according to Ingmire. The figure grew to 73 percent with conservation measures and energy-efficiency upgrades overseen by county maintenance officials and the county’s board of supervisors, he adds.

Ingmire tells CNYBJ that Hawthorne, New Jersey–based Phister Energy installed the solar array. 

RER Energy used a $974,616 award from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) NY-Sun Competitive PV program to help fund the installation costs.

When asked about the overall project cost, Ingmire said it was about $5 million.

Solar array

RER Energy Group (RER), project partners, town officials, and other local dignitaries in October gathered in the town of Lincoln to officially commission the installation of the solar array located at the county’s Buyea Road landfill.

RER Energy Group provides solar systems throughout the U.S. and Latin America. The company says it has developed more than 40 megawatts of solar energy, obtaining over $40 million in grant proceeds for over 100 commercial, industrial, agricultural, municipal, and nonprofit customers.

RER Energy worked with Annapolis, Maryland–based New Energy Equity in developing the solar-array project. 

In its news release, RER Energy says the array consists of 7,752 ground-mounted, photovoltaic solar panels. The system will produce more than 2.8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of lower-cost, renewable energy annually. Over the projected 25-year term, the agreement will result in more than $3 million in cost savings for the county and its residents.

Columbus, Ohio–based AEP OnSite Partners owns the solar installation and is the entity that will be selling the power to Madison County.

“AEP OnSite Partners collaborates with communities, businesses and universities to put in place advanced, clean energy resources in a way that is both affordable and hassle free. This project allows Madison County to add risk-managed, affordable energy to help meet their power needs without requiring them to own or maintain a solar system,” Joel Jansen, chief operating officer of AEP OnSite Partners, said in the RER release. 

AEP OnSite Partners is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), which is described as “one of the nation’s largest electric-utility companies” in the release.          

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