Open houses slated for large solar project

Watertown Daily Times

A Boston solar developer hopes to begin building two community solar projects in the towns of Adams and LeRay in the spring.

Nexamp Inc. plans to erect an array with 12,000 panels off Route 178 between where it intersects with Route 289 and Nohle Road in the town of Adams. It also plans to build an array with 14,000 panels at 36171 Route 3 in the town of LeRay.

Depending on the amount of snowfall the area receives, Joseph Fiori, director of business development for Nexamp, said construction could begin in the spring, with both arrays becoming operational in the late summer or early fall. The target operation date depends on construction and when National Grid connects the arrays to its electrical grid.

Planning officials from both Adams and LeRay recently approved the site plans for the projects in their respective communities, according to David Ross, deputy zoning officer for the town of Adams, and Lee Shimmel, zoning officer for LeRay.

“We’re really excited about bringing these projects forward,” Mr. Fiori said.

Developers of community solar projects sell energy directly to consumers, and their projects are designed to provide financial benefits to subscribers. They earn cost saving credits as a result of the renewable energy generated from the solar arrays.

Keith Hevenor, communications manager for Nexamp, said subscribers’ bills from National Grid should equal zero, if not close to it, because of the credits the utility provides in exchange for the energy from the arrays, although “it’s not an exact science.” Subscribers then receive a bill from Nexamp for the value of those credits, or about what they would have paid National Grid, but with a discount from the developer. As a result, Mr. Fiori said they can expect a 10 percent decrease in their energy costs.

Mr. Hevenor said 600 to 700 National Grid customers should be able to subscribe to the Adams array, which is 4.6 megawatts direct current, and to the LeRay project, which is 4.9 megawatts direct current. Nexamp has already begun accepting subscribers.

“Our first preference is to start as local as possible,” Mr. Fiori said.

The arrays will connect to distribution lines that transfer energy into the electric grid, Mr. Fiori said, unlike large-scale commercial energy projects, which connect to high-voltage transmission lines.

The developer has applied for NY-Sun’s Megawatt Block subsidy program and the federal investment tax credit to help finance the projects, but Mr. Henevor said they are not currently pursuing payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

“We have good economies of scale and good financial resources,” Mr. Hevenor said.

Nexamp has other possible projects in Jefferson County that are in the early stages of development, as well as one in St. Lawrence County.

“We do have a few other projects in Jefferson County in our portfolio that we look forward to bring forward,” Mr. Fiori said.

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