Private entities pitch building 2,000,000 kWh solar farm on Camden Hills Regional High School campus
ROCKPORT — The Five Town CSD Board of Directors will convene July 29 to consider a proposal initiated by the private company ReVision Energy and investment group Aligned Climate Capital LLC to site a solar farm on currently wooded land on the Camden Hills Regional High School 100-acre parcel on Route 90 in Rockport.
The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. at the Bus Barn, off of Knowlton Street in Camden; the one agenda item: Possible Approval of a solar energy farm on the CHRHS site in a wooded area between the school and Meadow Street.
The proposal involves an investor group, Aligned Climate Capital, with collaboration from Coastal Enterprises Inc., providing approximately $3 million in financing to sell solar energy to the district for 9 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.
According to a summary included in the board pre-meeting packet, the recently signed LD 1711, An Act To Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation Resources in Maine, “has created a favorable market opportunity for the CSD,” which comprises Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport and governs the high school.
The five towns collectively own the high school and land it sits on.
“We have a unique and immediate opportunity to utilize these new solar program benefits, provide available land for solar development, maximize electricity savings, lock in long-term solar electricity rates, take advantage of future utility rate increases and offset 100 percent of the electric demands of the Camden elementary, middle and high schools, plus administrative offices with solar energy, bringing the district’s electricity profile to net zero, wrote ReVision, in its board memo.
The ReVision memo said the district could save approximately $60,000 a year, with zero capital investment costs, as all site preparation and installation costs are to be born by Aligned Climate Capital.
“And finally and substantially, a localized commercial-scale solar installation will offer unprecedented educational experiences for students, faculty and the community,” ReVision said.
The arrangement would follow:
The Five Towns CSD would access a 12.9 cents per kilowatt-hour credit from CMP, for every kilowatt-hour generated by solar power.
“If the District can purchase solar electricity at a lower rate, real savings will accrue,” ReVision said.
Aligned would own, operate, and maintain the solar farm, selling solar electricity to the district under an electricity procurement contract.
Construction of the solar project, along with management of both the negotiation with Aligned and the monitoring of the solar project, is to be provided by ReVision Energy.
If the project is completed before the end of 2019, Aligned would achieve a current year tax credit, “allowing them to offer the lowest possible price structure to the District,” the memo said.
If the project is completed at any time after December 1 2019, the project is eligible for LD 1711 rates, it said.
“ If the District can move forward with some urgency in making this electricity commodity procurement, it can achieve its maximum savings both in the first year and in every year of the 25 year contract,” according to ReVision. “The District will also have the opportunity of negotiating an option to purchase the solar project from Aligned, at some future date. To move forward, these action items need to receive highest priority by both the District and by ReVision Energy:
- Identify available developable land and delineate Wetland Areas; work with Maine DEP for approval of project Clear Land (Cut, Stump and Chip)
- Work with Town of Rockport (Marge Jones Fields) or Maine DOT to approve lowest cost (shortest) utility line service route
- Create Five Towns CSD/ReVision Energy solar development agreement, negotiated and executed by the District and ReVision
- Design and Engineer maximum solar facility to produce nearly 2,000,000 kWh annually (schools + administrative buildings)
- Submit Utility Interconnection application to CMP
- Finalize Local Permitting
- Receive Interconnection Agreement and Local Permitting Approvals
- Sign Solar PPA with Aligned Climate Capital
- Construct Solar Project (start date no later than October 1, 2019)