Local Community Solar Project Nears Opening Date | Local News

A Nexamp Inc. representative says the near-complete solar farm in the city of Niagara built on a landfill was and is a great opportunity for a developer.

The 3.5 megawatt/AC solar panel installation, which covers approximately 15 acres at 4798 Lockport Road, is capable of powering 600 average electric user homes per year, and because community solar energy is based on subscribers, 600 households already have a guaranteed supply for each year when they subscribe as soon as the array is online.

Rep. Keith Hevenor said the way it works is that a subscriber buys the project after calculating how much power it will need. On the Nexamp side, the project sells power to a utility which, in the case of the Lockport Road project, is National Grid.

“We send it to the grid and we get compensated with a credit from National Grid,” Hevenor said. “Then we give that credit to our subscribers.”

In the end, the consumer saves money by paying only 90% of his electricity bill. They will also receive a second invoice from Nexamp for their panels on the solar farm.

The company says subscribers can save up to 15% on their annual electricity costs.

The Lockport Road project faces last-minute hiccups. Scheduled to be open in the summer of 2022, it should now be open in September or later.

Nate Kemmerer, the building manager for the project, said due to supply chain issues some equipment did not arrive.

“Once we have that, we have to wait for the utility to put up their poles so we can connect to the grid,” Kemmerer said. “So just a few things there. Once we’ve done that, we’ll proceed with commissioning and testing to make sure it works as it should.

Hevenor noted that there are resistance segments across the state that want to preserve farmland, often leveling the ground in an effort to preserve “prime” soils that are ideal for agricultural uses and keep projects. remote solar.

This is problematic for solar developers, especially in Western New York, where there are many ways to connect to the grid and bring power down, but many residents want to keep their panel in sight. free and worry about safety and possible dismantling. of these “industrial” electricity producers.

So while the landfill is the best compromise — having been shut down in 1987 — there aren’t enough landfills to power the state, Hevenor said, and each megawatt costs the company about $2 million. For the entire Lockport Road project, he estimated that Nexamp had spent between $8 million and $10 million.

The infrastructure is also different on a landfill than on a farmer’s field. Kemmerer said first of all nothing could be underground

“A lot of people look at solar panels and think they just need to be installed,” he said. “There’s a lot of engineering and a lot of work that goes into it and there’s a lot of stuff going underground.”

Wires, conduits, all of that had to be bundled up and placed above ground, Kemmerer said, because of the concrete covering the landfill.

“It creates a different challenge than a normal site,” he said.

During construction, Nexamp is paying $250 per month to lease the land, but that price will increase once the racks come online. Hevenor said Nexamp will pay approximately $3,300 per month in the lease and $23,500 in taxes, due to a tax settlement, increasing 2% per year, which will be split between the city, county and county. school district.

According to Hevenor, the company is involved in two dozen projects in New York, nine of which are already in operation.