Solar farm agreement wins Town Council approval

Solar farm agreement wins Town Council approval

LINCOLN – With construction plans moving forward on a 4,000 panel solar farm in Lincoln, the town has formalized an agreement that will bring in both property tax funds and a discount on the town’s electricity bills.

Tuesday night, the Town Council voted to approve a 25-year net metering finance agreement between Lincoln and Quality Drive LLC, a Rhode Island limited liability company, that is representing the solar farm project on commercial land near Quality Drive off New England Drive in the industrial park.

The 1.3 mega-watt solar array will span about five acres of land, and according to the resolution, the project is expected to be completed by Dec. 31.

The agreement will bring in $10,000 a year in addition to energy credits, which are worth about another $55,000, Town Administrator Joseph Almond explained.

Almond called the solar farm a good deal for Lincoln, and said he anticipates giving most of those electricity credits to the School Department.

“We’ll share these credits, because the schools are the biggest users of power,” he said.

Ralph Palumbo, managing director at Southern Sky, explained that the electricity credits Lincoln would receive translates to a 20 percent discount, but also pointed out that electricity credits are valued higher than what electricity billing is.

“Twenty percent of the credits is more than 20 percent of your bill,” he told council members.

He explained previously to the council that the solar farm will be connected to National Grid, where electricity credits will be measured and operate under state regulations for virtual net metering. From here, he told the board, electricity credits would be dispensed to the town at a discounted price. All of the electricity the site produces, Palumbo said, would go to Lincoln.

As reported previously by The Breeze, Lincoln is expected to see about $2 million in benefits, which will combine savings on electricity and enhanced tax revenue from the project over 25 years.

Town Solicitor Anthony DeSisto explained that by state law, this type of renewable equipment is exempt from taxation, but after working with the town, Quality Drive agreed to pay property taxes and make a payment for that exemption, totaling to $10,000.

Almond told The Breeze between a property tax bill, which is approximately over $4,000 a year, Quality Drive will make up the difference for its exemption to hit the $10,000.

DeSisto explained that should real estate taxes rise to more than $10,000 over the course of the agreement, Quality Drive would give a reduction in the amount of the credits the town receives for its power purchase.

“It is purely a revenue stream for the town,” Palumbo said, reiterating that Lincoln isn’t responsible for capital requirements, operational obligations or credit backing.

Almond said the agreement will go into effect once the solar farm is operating.