New Milford Clean Energy proposed by Massachusetts company
Updated 4:24 pm, Tuesday, February 2, 2016
NEW MILFORD — A Massachusetts energy company has its eye on 300 acres in New Milford to establish a solar array and a fuel cell facility that would produce electric power to sell on both the power grid and directly to the town.
Peter D’Addeo and Ray Necci represented the company, Ameresco, during a presentation last week to the Town Council. They would operate the clean-energy facilities on Kent and Candlewood Mountain roads under the business name of New Milford Clean Power.
“We have a developer with experience with solar power,” D’Addeo said. “We’re building where the power is consumed and not using fossil fuel and won’t leave a carbon footprint.”
Connecticut law aims to have the state obtain 20 percent of its electricity from Class 1 renewable solar, wind, fuel cell and hydro-generated power sources by 2020, said Necci, a former president of Connecticut Light & Power. The legislative penalty to the public utility companies if that goal is not reached is 5 cents per kilowatt hour, which will be passed on to ratepayers, he added.
Ameresco is submitting a bid to the state to be one of those Class 1 suppliers. The bids must be submitted last week and licenses will be awarded in nine months. D’Addeo and Necci presented Ameresco’s plans as part of the bid process; the next step would be for New Milford Clean Power to submit an application to the Connecticut Siting Council.
D’Addeo said the company would request to make annual fixed payments instead of paying taxes, under state legislation that encourages use of real estate tax incentives to produce clean power. He said such an agreement would produce $17 million more in payments to the town over 20 years than property taxes would bring on the 300 acres.
Eversource Power Resources and United Illuminating would buy power generated from the solar array, with fuel cell generated energy eventually offered to the town, D’Addeo explained.
The properties being considered by Ameresco are owned by Wells Fargo Bank but were previously the 243 Kent Road site where Sempra Energy planned to construct a 500-megawatt natural electric generating plant in 1998, contiguous to the 197 Candlewood Mountain Road site where developer Karl Frey had attempted to build a 500 unit residential community in 2005.
The 20-megawatt solar array would be located on the Candlewood Mountain Road property on 80 acres on the ridge facing south. It would sit below the sight line for Candlewood Lake and for Candlewood Road. The solar panels would sit from 2 feet to 8 feet off the ground and would not be visible from Candlewood Lake Road, D’Addeo said.
The 163 acres on Kent Road — just west of Rocky River Road — would be the site of a 20 megawatt fuel cell power generating facility, with the existing quarry cleaned up for future use. A small industrial park is also proposed for the Kent Road site.
Council member Katy Francis cautioned D’Addeo not to imply on the bid proposal to the state that the project had the endorsement of the New Milford Town Council. Mayor David Gronbach noted that the presentation last week may be a “moot point” if the request to the state is not granted. And Ameresco would have to come before the council again if the project is state approved.
“I have seen these solar fields,” Esposito said. “They are safe. Animals often graze in their areas. We signed a pledge to get a certain amount of our energy locally from clean energy sources. This would go a long way toward meeting that pledge.”