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The Town & Village of Essex, Town of Berlin save with solar from Green Lantern Solar array in Essex

Colin Flanders

As Published in the Essex Reporter, April 3, 2019 – By Colin Flanders – A Waterbury-based energy company says a new 500kw solar array in the town of Essex is officially up and running.

“With the help of Green Mountain Power, we’ve successfully interconnected to the grid and are excited to partner with the town and village of Essex and the town of Berlin,” said Scott Buckley, vice president of underwriting for Green Lantern Group, which constructed the 3-acre solar array at 251 River Rd.

Green Lantern first approached the selectboard about the project in October 2017, calling the property a perfect location for a solar array because it’s not visible from any abutting properties.

“We really believe that this is a well-sited, good project that can benefit the community in more ways than one,” said Will Veve, a Green Lantern managing partner, at the time.

Per agreements reached with the Green Lantern, the town and village are expected to see their electric bills lowered by a combined $300,000 over the next two decades in addition to receiving net metering credits.

Net metering is a state program that credits solar users for electricity added back to the grid. Energy generators like Green Lantern then sell those energy credits to private citizens, municipalities or schools, who use the credits on their own bills.

Green Lantern says the town and village will save about $8,500 a year over the next two decades based on the town’s annual report, which showed current spending at roughly $93,000. Those savings are based on the solar array offsetting 80 percent of the town’s annual load — a 20 percent window remains to allow the town to realize future efficiencies.

The initial term of such an agreement is 20 years. Buckley said the panels are expected to last up to 35 years. He added Green Lantern has finished about 60 other projects throughout the state.

The company is also working on a separate, larger project on River Road in collaboration with GMP, which will place about 19,400 panels within a 25-acre swath in the disturbed portion of the former sand extraction pit.

GMP is pursuing that project and similar ones around the state to reduce transmission costs from the region, which are based on the company’s peak load — the most energy used in a single hour during the month or year. By shaving that down, the company can transfer savings to customers, and one way to do that is battery storage, or the process of absorbing solar energy when it’s abundant and firing it at expected peak loads later when people use the most energy.

The project will use a battery created in collaboration with Tesla that can store up to 8 megawatts of power. Buckley said that project is continuing as expected.