Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

The Morris County Improvement Authority has been named a winner of a 2010 Innovation Award from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council for the authority’s solar energy project.

The nonprofit IREC, based in Latham, N. Y., recognized the Improvement Authority for implementing “an innovative project that promotes and accelerates the adoption of renewable energy technologies.”

Under the Improvement Authority’s program known as the Morris Model, 14,000 solar panels are being installed at 19 schools and county government buildings throughout the county. When completed, the total project will result in an energy savings of more than $3.8 million, said Freeholder William Chegwidden, freeholder liaison to the MCIA.

The initiative is being financed by the Improvement Authority with bonds guaranteed by the county, and no debt service or out-of-pocket expenses will be incurred by the local entities, Chegwidden said.

The design, installation, operation and maintenance of the solar equipment are the responsibility of the development team of Tioga Energy, Inc., and SunDurance Energy, which were also recognized by the Council.

According to Chegwidden, the team will be able to take the tax and utility advantages that are available in the solar industry and pass a portion of these benefits on to the participating school districts and the county by selling the solar energy to them at a fixed price that is approximately 35 percent lower than the existing retail price for energy, for 15 years.

“This truly is an ingenious model of solar financing,” Chegwidden said. “We’re thrilled to have been recognized for it.”

Participants in the first round of the renewable energy program are Boonton High School, the high school parking lot and the John Hill and School Street schools in the Boonton School District; Morris Knolls and Morris Hills high schools in the Morris Hills Regional School District; Mountain Lakes High School and the Wildwood School in the Mountain Lakes School District; the Brooklawn, Central, Littleton and Troy Hills schools in the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District; West Morris Central and West Morris Mendham high schools in the West Morris Regional High School District; the ice rinks and parking lot at the Morris County Park Commission’s Mennen Arena in Morris Township; the county’s Schuyler Building and the building’s parking facility in Morristown; and the county Voter Machine Tech Center in Hanover.

Additional information about the renewable energy initiative may be obtained by calling the Morris County Improvement Authority at 973-285-6020.