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Laconia landfills could see new use as solar farms

Union Leader Correspondent

March 27. 2018 11:55PM

LACONIA — The city could realize $49,000 a year in revenue if it decides to lease two former landfill sites for use as a solar farm.

During a Monday night meeting, the City Council gave the green light to the city manager to advance talks and procure schematics to ensure the project will not negatively impact abutters, which includes the Governor's Crossing development on Route 11B.

City Manager Scott Myers said New England Solar Garden was the lone company to respond to a request for proposals for a 2.08-acre parcel off Frank Bean Road, part of a former burn dump that has been recently capped.

The other property is 59 acres on Route 11B and was a former city landfill that was capped nearly 15 years ago.

The proposal could pump both money and 4.8 megawatts of clean energy into the community, and Myers said other than a humming noise emitted similar to any electrical panel the impact would be negligible for abutters as trees provide a visual screen.

As both sites are environmentally sensitive and have significant land-use restrictions, Myers said, a long- term lease opportunity is an appropriate use for the properties.

In response to questions from the council, Myers said, the city has deeded access to the 11B property through Governor’s Crossing to allow for mandated continued groundwater testing.

New England Solar Garden has already completed numerous projects in New Hampshire, including Franklin, Conway, Somersworth and Peterborough, among others, and was the first and only company to build the largest solar project in the state and on top of a landfill.

As a result of the net metering law that went into effect in July 2013, when a host site is built, if the array produces more power than can be used locally, the excess can be sold at a profit.

The group of customers must be default service customers of the same electric distribution utility as the host, which in Laconia’s case would be Eversource. The host must also provide a list of the group members to the Public Utilities Commission and the electric distribution utility, and must certify that all members of the group have a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the host.

There is the potential that the city may qualify for a $60,000 rebate through a PPA as a result of net metering, Myers told the council.

In other projects around the state, New England Solar Garden’s role has been as developer, making sure all permits and approvals are in place to build an array. The actual construction is subcontracted at the host site.

Individuals and companies that join New England Solar Garden as group members can benefit from the power being produced by buying it for less per kilowatt hour than their utility provider.

The proposal calls for a 20-year lease, with two five-year extension options, and no capital cost to Laconia. The city would realize $36,000 in annual land lease payments and $13,440 in a payment in lieu of taxes.

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