Solar facility proposed for former landfill

 

This is the solar array built in the town of Milton by New England Solar Garden Corp., which is proposing leasing city land to build a solar facility in Laconia. The City Council is considering that proposal. (Courtesy photo)

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A Portsmouth company is proposing a solar power generating facility at a former city landfill off New Hampshire Route 11B about 2 miles north of Laconia Municipal Airport.

The plan by New England Solar Garden Corp. came in response to a city request for proposals to lease 59 acres of property at a landfill that was capped 15 years ago and a separate 2-acre site off Frank Bean Road.

On Monday night, the consensus of the City Council was that city staff should proceed with examining the proposal, which was the only response to the city request.

New England Solar Garden is suggesting a 4.8 megawatt plant. According to Solar Energy Industries Association 1 megawatt of solar energy can power 150 homes.

Under the plan, the city would receive a $36,000 annual lease payment and a $13,440 annual payment in lieu of taxes while realizing $60,000 in annual energy savings assuming the city could consume all the power from the solar arrays.

The company seeks a 20-year lease with two 5-year extensions. On its website, New England Solar Garden says it has built solar facilities totaling 25 megawatts of generation, including a project at a landfill site in Milton, and has more than 130 megawatts of solar facilities under development.

City Manager Scott Myers said the best approach would be to consider doing the project on the 59-acre site, while leaving the 2-acre parcel free for other potential development.

He also said the $60,000 projected in annual energy savings through a power purchase agreement is not certain as it could depend on state legislation now being considered. Also, the municipality itself couldn’t consume all that power, although other Laconia-based entities such as the water district, the housing authority and schools could benefit.

Even without considering energy cost savings, payments from the company to the city would still be substantial, Myers said.

“Even if we couldn’t do a rebate through a power purchase agreement, I still think $45,000-a-year for a site we’re doing nothing with over 30 years would generate $1.3 million and change. And they’ve got the experience of working on landfills.”

Myers said next steps will be to determine how the facility would be positioned on the property and how such a plant would fit in with neighboring properties.

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