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Solar ‘Phase II’ about to begin

(5/6) As the first phase of a solar power generation facility in Emmitsburg continues to generate power, contract negotiations for a second phase are already underway, according to Town Manager David Haller.

Haller informed the board of commissioners of the status of Phase II at their May 5 meeting. A full status briefing is expected to occur in June.

The solar installations are being sited on the Creamery Road property of the town wastewater treatment plant, the first phase having been formally approved by the board of commissioners in September of last year, and, now, already on-line.

Jack Copus, director of business development at Rockville-based Standard Solar, previously described the Phase I work as involving the development of a "1.1 megawatt ground-mounted" array…"estimated to produce about 1,400 megawatt hours on the first year, which is 1,425,000 kilowatt hours."

Standard Solar was appointed by the town as the project EPC (engineer-procurement-construct manager) through a previously held competitive bidding process.

The UGI Utilities, Inc., a natural gas and electric utility, will be the company that will actually be operating both phases of the solar power installation, and leasing the land from the town upon which the solar arrays and controls are located. UGI will own the solar production operation for 20 years as a third party.

The Phase Two installations will produce an estimated 1,670,000 kilowatt hours in the first year of production, Haller told the commissioners at their May meeting. The town expects to generate enough excess power from the Phase II installation to turn a $40,000 profit.

After the contracts are finalized for the Phase II installation, the array should be on-line by the end of September, Haller stated.

Concurrently in progress is the construction of the new wastewater treatment facility, which is expected to be completed in June 2015.

The facility will be using some of the solar power generated on-site, but Haller said that will only provide about 60 percent of the treatment plant’s power needs. "The new plant is an energy monster," Haller said, noting that the facility’s energy consumption will be "more than the whole town (uses)."

Aside from legal expenses and related expenditures, the town has not had to pay any upfront costs for the solar installations, which have been assumed by the developers.

To date, the town has expended some $3,000 for an initial study, $6,000 for existing pipeline removal at the site, and $19,000 in legal services. Of that, some $12,500 is expected to be reimbursed through energy grants, according to Mayor Donald Briggs.

Haller said it has been projected that the town will spend another $15,000 to $20,000 in the process of completing the pending Phase II contract.

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