For the last three years, the solar panel project slated for Scituate’s capped landfill has been much ado about nothing.
Deadlines for the project have come and gone, new deadlines have been made and thrown out. But now, after another round of negotiations with the town, officials finally expect the project to be up and running by October.
“They are going to begin construction in late April/early May and have it completed by Oct. 15,” said Scituate Director of Public Works Albert Bangert.
To those that would scoff at the latest deadline, Bangert said this time the developer, Brightfields Development LLC, means business.
“They have put up front $109,000 to demonstrate good faith and to pay for our delays,” Bangert said, noting that, starting on June 15, the developer will pay the town $300 a day until the project is done (up to that $109,000 cap, or a year’s worth of late payments).
“They have to post the deposit and they have to have construction underway by May 15 in order to retain the right to continue the project. And if they meet those requirements, we’re satisfied that they will follow through promptly,” Bangert said.
Bangert said the main delay has been financing for the project. Those problems have moved back the target date for completion from December 2012, to June 2013.
Though that June deadline was earlier described as a “drop dead date”, town officials agreed to give the developer one last chance to finish the project as long as the town collects the late payments.
Despite the delayed timeline in getting the project up and running, Bangert said the energy the development will provide is more than worth the wait.
“When it’s up and running, the town will get the electricity from this at a price lower than we can pay from National Grid,” Bangert said. “We’ll be saving $150,000-$200,000 a year.”
The solar array will also account for the equivalent of half the town’s municipal and school electricity. The other half comes from the town’s turbine.
According to Bangert, it’s just a start for the town’s energy initiatives, which also include buying more fuel-efficient vehicles for the town, and changing building codes to increase the energy efficiency of homes.
“We’re also working on other energy saving projects to lower the amout of fuel, oil, and gas used to heat our buildings. That’s our next – how do we work on conservation,” Bangert said.