Posted Monday, October 5th, 2015
The Morris County Improvement Authority will hold a public session tonight (Monday, Oct. 5) at 6:30 p.m. in Morristown to discuss preliminary findings on the viability of construction of various unbuilt solar sites from the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program Series 2011 solar projects.
The MCIA, in concert with a Morris County Freeholder’s “Build-No Build Committee,’’ were asked by the freeholders to make recommendations regarding the financial and operational aspects of the unbuilt renewable energy sites.
The sites that are being reviewed consist of those originally scheduled for implementation of solar energy projects as part of the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program Series 2011, plus alternate sites.
The Authority will convene its meeting tonight at 6 p.m. for an executive session that is closed to the public, and then will reconvene in an open meeting to detail its solar project findings.
In 2011, the MCIA sold $33.1 million in county-guaranteed bonds to help finance the MCIA’s renewable energy program to install solar panels at 30 municipal and school sites in Morris County to generate power and reduce energy costs for the participants. Of those projects, 17 have been fully built and are up and running.
However, due to a variety of factors – including a legal battle between renewable energy program’s developer and contractor — the county has run into a financial deficits, and renewable energy projects at 13 of the originally scheduled sites have not yet been constructed.
The county, with the assistance of the MCIA, is now undertaking a process to determine the viability of moving ahead with the unbuilt sites, with a primary emphasis on construction and financial viability. These sites consist of facilities owned by Morris County, municipalities and boards of education located within Morris County.
The special public session on Oct. 5 will give county residents a chance to get a first-hand understanding of the process we are now employing, and to get all of their questions answered,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.
“It’s an effort for transparency that is essential when it comes to expenditures of county tax dollars, especially on such a complicated project,’’ she added.
“While the solar program bonds were issued in 2010 and 2011 by a prior freeholder board, we have a fiduciary responsibility to Morris County taxpayers regardless of our prior misgivings,’’ said Freeholder John Krickus. “Our primary focus now is damage control, minimizing the losses the county will incur. The county faces potential additional losses depending on the market value of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs),” he said.
The Committee’s efforts regarding the unbuilt sites, to be detailed on Oct. 5, included:
- Site visits and inspection of roof, ground and other engineering factors;
- Analysis to determine anticipated photovoltaic production at each site;
- Financial modeling, including a preliminary ranking of sites, based on multiple factors, including installation costs, efficiency in installation, existing site conditions, energy productivity and break-even Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) values.
- Receipt of preliminary design and installation cost proposals for each site from engineering, procurement and construction contractors.
The Committee’s preliminary sites’ revenue analysis, to be discussed on Oct. 5, will detail the following information on each location:
- PPA Revenue – The amount paid by each local entity for the potential supply of solar energy, in lieu of a similar payment to the traditional grid-energy supplier.
- SREC Revenue – The amount of revenue anticipated to be generated at each Unbuilt Site from the generation and sale of SRECs.
- Operating Costs – Includes industry-standard operation and maintenance expenses, as well as equipment upgrades in years 5, 10 and 15.
- Debt Service – The aggregate amount of principal plus interest to be incurred to finance implementation of the renewable energy project at each site.
- Project Cash Flow – An amount equal to the excess of the aggregate of PPA revenue plus SREC revenue, less operating costs and debt service.
- Local Unit Energy Savings – The aggregate amount of savings realized at each site as a result of participation in the program.
- Breakeven SREC – The price of SRECs needed to produce sufficient SREC Revenue, along with PPA Revenue, to result in a project cash flow of zero dollars.
The preliminary revenue analysis was presented to the freeholders and public at the Board of Freeholders’ meeting on Sept. 21.
On Oct.5, a subsequent public workshop, to be held in the Morris County Administration Building in Morristown, the MCIA and the Freeholders’ Build-No Build Committee will again present that analysis, plus any additional findings, and respond to questions from members of the public.