Lebanon OKs plan to work with company to build solar arrays on city property

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/21/2019 10:05:54 PM
Modified: 5/21/2019 10:05:48 PM

LEBANON — City officials are praising plans to install solar panels at eight sites throughout Lebanon, saying a proposed deal with Concord-based ReVision Energy could lower electric bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The City Council voted unanimously last week to negotiate a power purchase agreement with ReVision, which would allow the company to build solar arrays this summer and then recoup costs by selling energy back to Lebanon.

That energy will come at a discounted price, Assistant Mayor Clifton Below said on Tuesday.

City officials predict Lebanon will save about $12,000 on its annual electric bills until 2024, when it can buy the solar panels outright. Savings could then top $5 million over the solar arrays’ estimated 40-year lifespan.

“There are no upfront costs to the city, and it’s expected to save money compared to standard electric rates,” said Below, a former commissioner on the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.

Under the proposed agreement, solar arrays will be installed at Lebanon City Hall, the public works garage and administration buildings, Kilton Public Library, the landfill’s recycling and maintenance facilities, the police station and wastewater treatment plant.

ReVision predicts the panels will be capable of generating 836 kilowatts of power, which will be used to power city facilities.

The company estimates the panels will cost $2.1 million to install, but the city would be able to purchase them for about $1.2 million in five years. That’s partially because ReVision can claim federal tax credits, which are not available to municipalities, for building the solar arrays.

“We’re really inspired by the city of Lebanon taking the lead and being at the forefront of New Hampshire communities in their commitment to clean energy,” said Dan Weeks, ReVision’s director of marketing and development.

Weeks said he’s seen a recent uptick of Granite State cities and towns looking to install solar panels. Roughly 12% of Vermont energy generation is through solar, while New Hampshire has yet to reach 1%, he said.

“We’re certainly seeing a lot of talk, a lot of wanting to move forward but municipalities don’t move quickly, and so we hope there will be a lot of action to follow,” Weeks said. “In our mind, that really underscores the importance of Lebanon doing what they’re doing.”

But across the Upper Valley, several communities already have made investments in solar.

ReVision recently partnered with officials in Hanover to install a 16.64-kilowatt array on Town Hall, as well as a nearly 70-kilowatt installation on the town’s water reclamation facility.

Hanover also hopes to build a 3-megawatt solar array next to the water treatment plant on Grasse Road, pending passage of a New Hampshire bill to expand the state’s net metering cap.

Meanwhile, Hartford completed a project in early 2018 to put solar arrays on its public works facility and the White River Junction wastewater treatment plant, according to Geoffrey Martin, the town’s energy coordinator.

Lebanon also could look to expand solar to other city-owned sites, Below said. Several areas, such as Lebanon Municipal Airport, could be good homes for panels after repairs and renovations to the roofs of the terminal and other buildings, he said.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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