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Newark, DEMEC to build 244.8-kilowatt solar facility


From the June 3, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published June 3, 2013

By Fallon Forbush
Communications Assistant

The City Council of Newark, Del., voted May 13 to enter into a contract with Solair, LLC—a Delaware-based solar energy contractor—to build a 244.8-kilowatt solar facility.

The Delaware Municipal Electric Corp. will help the city-owned utility of Newark finance the project by purchasing the system’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) for a 20-year term.

Eight responses to a request for proposal announcement were received and evaluated to determine the lowest cost for locally manufactured photovoltaic panels and local labor, said DEMEC.  The joint action agency recommended that the city build the solar project with Solair with a bid price not to exceed $626,750.

The project is expected to provide electrical generation valued at approximately $25,000 annually and SREC credits estimated at $22,000 annually, said City Manager Carol Houck.

Previously, the municipal utility had tried to move forward with the project using a purchased power approach, which resulted in a negative cost benefit and inability to move forward, said Houck. "We now have the opportunity to move forward with the assistance from DEMEC," she said.

The Delaware Renewable Portfolio Standard requires every retail seller of electricity in the state to meet an annually escalating percentage of electricity needs from renewable resources, said Scott Lynch, energy services manager for DEMEC. Electricity retailers must meet 25 percent of electricity from renewables by 2026; of that, 3.5 percent must be met by solar photovoltaics, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

The RPS applies to the state's investor-owned utilities, retail electricity suppliers, municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives. Municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives are allowed to opt out of the RPS requirements if they establish a comparable RPS program for their own ratepayers and establish a green energy fund. "The law is mandatory, but the municipals have the flexibility to create their own plan as deemed appropriate by the local regulatory body," said Lynch.

DEMEC has chosen to develop a RPS program opt-out plan and one of its components is to have community-sited renewable energy systems, Lynch said. "You’re buying a system," he said. "Something you will be able to look to, point at, bring people around and say, ‘We have this system in our municipality.’"

The planned location for the photovoltaic system is at McKee’s Park, a former landfill site.

Newark Electric Director Rick Vitelli "sees the project as a good reuse of the site and great learning experience for the engineers and our electric crew," said Houck.


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