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Library Board Considers Solar Project

Board votes to refer cost analysis to long-term financial committee.

The is considering a solar project on the building's parking lot and will be tasking a long-term financial committee with determining whether the move would be cost-effective.

Mayor Tim Braden updated the board Monday on a Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting where the solar project, which includes installation of a solar field over the parking lot, was discussed. Braden said in order to install the solar field, a large amount of the parking lot would need to be dug up and he suggested the long-term financial committee evaluate whether the costs would outweigh the benefits. The intention is for the solar field to help reduce electricity costs for the library.

Board Trustee Robert Lefkowitz said that the library board has options when it comes to funding the project: they could pay for the project upfront or allow a vendor to come in and install the solar field but own and sell Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) that are generated from the panels. After a solar facility generates 1MWh, SREC energy credits produced there can be bought or sold. They are typically purchased by electric suppliers who are looking to fulfill their renewable energy standards as determined by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU). Over time, the sale of the credits by the third-party company reduces electricity costs for the host facility.

But Braden said the demand for SRECs has "plummeted" and that the payback to the library would take longer than in previous years.

Board Secretary Dave Dalia felt that since the project would be funded by the , whether fully expensed upfront or otherwise, the issue should be out of the hands of the Library Board.

"It's up to the township, it's taken up enough of our time," he said.

Braden said that while the project could be funded by the township, the entities should work together if the end result would be to cut costs.

"If we can provide electricity in this building, our highest user in this township, at a reduced rate, we have an obligation to do that," Braden said.

Maxim Sapozhnikov March 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM
And how much would the investment be worth if the renewable mandate is killed? Please do not spend a single tax dollar on this boondoggle.
Gary Lewis March 13, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Max.....I agree.....the market for the SREC's has gone in the toilet. That being said, though, a properly structured lease arrangement puts most if not all of the risk onto the investor, Montville's taxpayers reap the benefit of a large reduction in what is an atrocious electric bill there, but just would have to forego any excess generation sale profits or SREC $$. I think it is worth exploring.....I recall the Sustainability Advisory Committee suggested looking at the Library and the DPW buildings for potential application after the energy audit was done.
Mom Tlm March 13, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Max, you are right on. This solar stuff is the biggest scam our generation has seen!!!! I just pray our local govt doesn't fall prey to BIG GOVT intimidation. . . How sad.
Mom Tlm March 13, 2012 at 01:03 PM
If the library is such an enormous expense, maybe the heat and air conditioning levels be reset (little cooler in winter to run less heat) and vice versa in summer. Also, maybe instead of being open the whole week, it is open just 3-4 days a week. Not sure if this is possible, but if the whole library is not in use the whole time it is open, light switches stay off in those sections until necessary.
Pete Sesnick March 13, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I meet with a group at the library twice each month. I'm of the opinion that better management of the HVAC systems and lighting might save some money. I certainly could be wrong, but I think it would be prudent to try this first before tearing up the parking lot.
Dan Grant March 13, 2012 at 03:02 PM
What is interesting is that in 2005 I brought the exploration of solar up at a debate and one of the Sandham supporters said I stole his idea. (even thought solar was a common topic at the time.) What is true is that Solar is being built in the Township of Wayne and they have done the research and 7 years after being elected Sandham has done nothing with it. So much for ideas of elected officials. It is certainly worth investigating the idea and I commend the Library for at least looking at it but I wouldn't waste my time with the Long Term Financial Planning Committee. We have Buildings and Fields that are lit that solar could be beneficial for. If the electrical costs of the Township can be reduced that is the real benefit. Selling power back would certainly be a plus but cost savings alone can make it worth while and right now we have no idea.
Gary Lewis March 13, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Dan......it's a pleasure being on the same page (solar) as you for a change (other than the debate issue which I have no idea about)! This is not only about tree hugging......this is a very real budget issue....real dollars and cents. All anyone has to do is look at the amount of glass built into the Library shell to get a feel for where a lot of energy is consumed. Light switch motion sensors on some of the smaller rooms and energy efficient light bulbs can only save so much. Not sure I would agree though that the Township Committee has done 'nothing' in 7 years.....the Township did do a comprehensive energy audit 3 or 4 years ago, which included exploring solar options on some of our buildings. Gary
Dan Grant March 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Gary, there is a decided anti-science bias in some of the other posters and as you say this isn't about "Tree Hugging". I would love to see that energy audit and what issues were explored. I guess I will have to OPRA that audit.
Maxim Sapozhnikov March 14, 2012 at 12:44 PM
If the library expenses are as nasty as claimed, maybe the working hours should be reconsidered. The library sees its peak use when the school is over and through the evening; maybe these are the hours it should only be open for. The only people going there at daytime are seniors, and they don't need as much on-site staff attention as kids.

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