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Hancock will have to act fast to get grant for solar power

Town might schedule special meeting this month to consider action on proposal

September 08, 2010|By DON AINES

The town of Hancock can access a $100,000 state grant for a renewable energy project, but it might have to act fast in order to get a solar power generating facility operating by the deadline of April 1, 2011.

The Town Council on Wednesday heard a presentation from Nate Greenberg, a business development manager with Washington Gas Energy Systems, and Brent Eskay of Standard Solar for a ground-mounted, 150-kilowatt solar facility at the wastewater treatment plant.

"With the grant money, time is certainly of the essence," Greenberg told the council.

A power purchase agreement would have to be signed in the next month or so and construction would need to begin this winter for the town to receive the Project Sunburst grant from the state, he said.

Mayor Daniel Murphy said the council might have to schedule a special meeting later this month to consider the action on the proposal.

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Under the proposal, Washington Gas would invest in the solar power facility, which would be installed and operated by Standard Solar, Greenberg said. Hancock would provide a location and buy the power generated over 20 years, he said.

The project will cost about $500,000 to $700,000, Eskay said. Once a power purchase agreement is signed, Eskay said his company would have to design the system, get the needed permits and order materials to get construction going by January.

The project would provide clean, renewable energy without upfront costs to Hancock; prices would be locked in for 20 years; and the town would only buy energy when it is being generated, Greenberg said.

Through a combination of tax credits, grants, renewable energy certificates and other incentives, electricity would cost about 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour, Greenberg said. That is higher than what the town now pays, but increases would be limited to 2.5 percent a year over the life of the contract, he said.

Without the incentives, the price could be as high as 25 cents per kilowatt hour, Eskay said. The project could save Hancock $160,000 in energy costs over 20 years, Greenberg said.

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