Members of the Little Falls Zoning Board go through documentation relating to the community solar project being proposed by Nexamp.
by Dave Warner
The Little Falls Zoning Board approved a plan submitted by Nexamp for a community solar project to be located south of Overlook Ridge.
Nexamp develops, designs, builds, owns, finances, and operates commercial-scale solar systems. The company has more than 200 solar systems completed that total over 100 megawatts of solar generating capacity.
The Little Falls two megawatt project is a 10-12 acre solar farm that will connect to National Grid’s infrastructure and put energy on the distribution grid.
As the owner of the project, Nexamp receives credits, but they cannot monetize those credits. They are required to share those credits with subscribers to the project.
According to Mike Cucchiara, Development Manager for Nexamp, “Subscribers would be able to, based on usage and needs, subscribe to a certain number of credits on their bill that would offset their bill 100%. The bill credit would offset up to 100% of their bill and they would receive a 10% discount. That 10% discount would be off of the credit we gave.”
“For example, it’s like a gift card. If Nexamp gave you $100 of credits, the subscriber would give Nexamp $90 for the credits themselves and that would help offset your utility bill,” he said.
One of the benefits of this kind of project is that there are no up-front costs to the City. In addition, the property will be re-assessed, which will provided increased revenue for the Cities tax base.
As for construction and what that will entail, Cucchiara said “The site is generally, but somewhat southerly slopping. Outside of the gravel driveway access, the panels are installed with a racking system that is basically just screwed into the ground, so there is no concrete foundation or anything like that.”
The ground will be cleared of any vegetation and a seven foot fence will be put up around the site. The panels are fixed tilt and at their highest point are just under nine feet high, so they will clear the fence by only two feet. Evergreen trees will be put on the north side of the project to screen the Overlook properties to the north. There is natural vegetation to the west and south that will help shield the site from view.
Cucchiara said “Anyone in the immediate area should be shielded from view. We should be relatively out of sight.”
Additional approvals that are needed for the project are expected to be completed by the end of this year. Nexamp is expecting to start the project in April of 2019, and construction will take 3-4 months.
“Right now we’re looking at maybe a September to October interconnection timeline. Part of our interconnection with National Grid that we paid for is upgrading items at the substation that need to be upgraded to accept this power. They’re indicating to us that they should be ready for next fall, and we’re hoping to complete that construction without too much delay between the two,” stated Cucchiara.
Nexamp will start reaching out to potential customers in late January to early February of next year. Customers should not expect to see a benefit from the solar farm until that connection with National Grid is complete.
Customers will be expected to sign a one-year agreement, with an automatic yearly extension for up to twenty years. Nexamp will provide an online portal that will assist customers with questions and payment of their bills.
Customers who are moving or wish to end the program will be asked to provide a 90 day notice to Nexamp. Those who are moving can have the program follow them if they continue to be part of National Grid’s territory.
Cucchiara said “If you are a renter, and then move because you’ve purchased a home, that discount can follow you. We guarantee the number of credits that you subscribe to and always provide that 10% discount.”
Mayor Mark Blask stated “This project is a benefit to our citizens. They can opt into this and get a 10% discount if they choose to do so, or not. And, there’s a tax benefit to us down the line as well.”
The agreement between National Grid and Nexamp is for 25 years. Nexamp has a lease on the property for 35 years. “Hopefully, at the end of that period, we’ll still have the opportunity to put out power because these panels are warranted for 25 years and last for a lot longer than that,” stated Cucchiara.
The company is thinking about holding a job fair to bring in local contractors for the project, as they have another installation that will be in the Town of Little Falls next year, as well as projects in neighboring counties.
For more information about Nexamp, you can visit their website at https://www.nexamp.com/Overall Site Plan - City of Little Falls Solar Project Final Review Set 10.29.18 4