Little Ferry ‘goes green’ with solar panels
A total of 312 panels, all 245 watt modules, were installed on the roofs of Borough Hall, the Senior Center and Public Library. Installation began around May and was completed in July.
Borough Administrator Michael Capabianco said the solar system has been undergoing fine-tuning, such as recalibrating meters and replacing subpar wiring, to improve performance.
Little Ferry is the lead agency in the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Solar Co-operative, a solar power purchasing co-op founded in 2010 that includesSecaucus. A request for proposals for a power purchase agreement for the solar system was issued through the co-op. The power purchase agreement was awarded in 2011 to SunLight General Capital for a 15-year term.
Per the power purchase agreement, SunLight General Capital owns, operates and maintains the solar panels. SunLight General Capital hired Martifer Solar, which installed the solar system.
The project was at no cost to the borough, Capabianco said.
“The power purchase agreement locks in the electric rate for a 15-year period of 8.9 cents a kilowatt with a 2.8 percent annual escalator increase,” Capabianco said. “At the end of 15 years, we will pay 13.1 cents per kilowatt — that is cheaper than today.”
The borough previously had been paying 14 cents per kilowatt for electricity, he noted.
A total of $207,981 in savings will be realized from the three sites over the life of the project. There are $10,107 in year one savings and $17,290 in year 15 projected savings from all three sites.
Approximately 22 percent of borough hall’s electricity will come from the solar panels. At the library, nearly 47 percent will, and at the senior center, 90 percent will.
“Because the panels do not provide 100 percent of the required building usage, it supplants the electric provided by PSE&G, and then the electricity provided by PSE&G supplements the solar system,” Capabianco said.
The final system size/capacity will be determined upon receiving the final build-outs, he noted.
“[This] is part of our larger program of utilizing resources for energy efficiency. We anticipate saving $10,000 a year on our electric bill,” council President Ronald Anzalone said. “This will enable us to offset costs such as increases in Meadowlands tax sharing. We only have so much control of our budget, and every dollar we can save is a dollar that we do not have to find when an outside agency bills us.”
“I was also interested in how the panels will extend the lives of the building roofs. For the next 15 years, the sun’s harmful UV rays will not be hitting the roofs and will be extending the roofs’ lives. This is especially important at the Senior Center where we just replaced the roof. … Not only do we save money today by cheaper electricity, but we are saving future costs by extending the life of our infrastructure,” Anzalone added.
Capabianco noted there are kiosks installed at Borough Hall and the library that depict data and graphs on how much energy has been generated, among other related information. That information also will be made available through the borough’s website, he said.
Councilman George Muller said pursuing solar energy in Little Ferry was ultimately a simple decision.
“It was free for us to do, saves money and we ‘go green’; the decision to pursue solar does not get any easier than that,” Muller said.