Solar farm set to power up, generate revenue for the town

Solar farm set to power up, generate revenue for the town

An aerial view of the new solar farm set to come online atop the former North Providence Landfill off Smithfield Road. The facility is projected to earn North Providence more than $200,000 each year over the next 25 years.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The town’s long and winding path to hosting a large-scale solar farm is coming to a conclusion, and the result is a 12-acre solar array expected to generate $5 million in savings and revenue to the town over the next 25 years.

Representatives from Southern Sky Renewable Energy said the town’s new solar array, located on the former North Providence Landfill off Smithfield Road, next to North Providence Animal Control, was completed a couple of months ago. Preliminary work on the development began last May.

On Sept. 4, the Town Council approved a resolution allowing Mayor Charles Lombardi to enter into all agreements and other items to finalize the transfer of membership interest of Southern Sky to John Hancock Life Insurance Company and to make final amendments to new metering, lease and pilot agreements related to intended financing of the project on the landfill.

Southern Sky owner Ralph Palumbo told the council that the town can expect an annual lease payment of $42,000, or $3,500 per acre, plus a $15,000 payment in taxes, and $150,000 in electricity savings for powering town buildings over 25 years, or more than a $200,000 value in total.

Attorney Preston Halperin, representing Southern Sky, said the 11.9 acres is smaller than the original 15 acres the 2.5 megawatt solar farm was supposed to cover. The only issues still needing to be addressed were “housekeeping” matters such as officially bringing on John Hancock as an institutional investment company to deliver the equity, financing and long-term stability the town wants in the project, he said. This is a “complex” project, said Halperin, and every detail should be right at the outset.

The entire solar array, which will produce solar energy and send it back to National Grid, was shifted closer to the roadway to facilitate a final connection to power lines, said representatives from Southern Sky.

Lombardi noted that officials from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management have repeatedly highlighted the town’s plan to add a new revenue-producing sustainable energy source on an old landfill, saying the town’s solar farm site is considered a “landmark location.”

The mayor said representatives from Southern Sky have been great to work with, taking every question asked by town officials and addressing it to make sure this is the “best agreement going forward” for the taxpayers of North Providence.

“I think it’s a great thing for the town,” he said.

North Providence is several years behind where it should have been in gaining revenue from the project, said Lombardi, but officials are happy to finally be moving forward with it.

Lombardi first proposed a solar farm on the landfill six years ago, but there were numerous delays due to a variety of factors, including opposition from a former Town Council to an original proposal.

Comments

The solar farm is faux free stuff (like its partner in crime) wind turbines drives electricity rates up. Yes, rate payer and tax payer get a bad deal. This is a short term front loaded scam and long term an economic time bomb. Google Road Map to nowhere and learn the facts about valid solutions! These things are low energy density and lack an ability to generate equivalent electricity output. The measure is annual capacity factor e.g wind 30% and solar is 20%.