Construction Set to Begin Next Month on Southampton Town-Led Community Solar Project

A facsimile of the proposed solar project completed elsewhere.
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Southampton Town is one step closer to creating the first municipally led community choice aggregation (CCA)/community distributed generation (CDG) community solar project on Long Island. CDG allows electricity customers to buy into a renewable project and what that means for town residents, who participate, is a lower electric bill. 

On Tuesday, October 12, the town board awarded a contract to a Boston-based company to build and operate a community solar installation of approximately 4.5 megawatts at the North Sea landfill.

“Many residents in our community have wanted the benefits of solar energy,” said Town Councilman John Bouvier, who has led the initiative, in a statement, “but were not able to access those benefits for several reasons — shaded roofs, structural issues, etc. This project brings renewable energy resources into the community with direct benefits to our residents and at no cost to the residents.”

The town issued a request for proposals for the project earlier this year. Seven firms submitted proposals by the July 22 deadline, and town officials conducted a series of interviews. Ultimately, the town board selected Kearsarge Energy Limited Partnership “because of their experience with similar projects on capped landfills and the strength of their management experience with community solar projects after the projects were commissioned and operational,” a statement issued last week said.

The town will also enter into a 20-year lease agreement with Kearsarge for the use of the site at the landfill. The annual lease payment is $60,000 with a 2% annual escalator from the developer. As part of the arrangement, the town will receive a one-time payment of $25,000 from its CCA administrator and the opportunity to provide a 10% monthly energy bill credit to community members who participate in the program, according to the town.

The credit equals one free month of electricity annually for the 20-year lease.

The municipality can also apply some of the energy credits from the project to meet its own energy demands, potentially reducing energy operating costs.

Eligibility criteria for resident participation is still yet to be decided. The energy credits in this initial phase will likely be made based on age and/or income requirements, similar to the eligibility criteria the School Tax Relief (STAR) program, among others. An informational and enrollment campaign is expected by mid-2022.

The town is hoping to launch similar community solar projects in the future to expand eligibility.

Meanwhile, construction is slated to begin in November and will take one year to complete. 

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