Groton’s Former Landfill Eyed for $4M Solar Project


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GROTON — The former town landfill is slated for a 5 megawatt solar array which could help generate both energy and income for Groton.

If approved, the $4 million project by West Hartford-based solar developer Verogy that was presented to the Town Council on Tuesday would provide Groton with about $200,000 in lease payments or payments in lieu of taxes each year for 20 years and earn Eversource electrical credits through virtual metering to town buildings.

The landfill, located on a 166-acre parcel at 685 Flanders Road, was closed in 1995 and capped in 1998, according to public works documents.

The first step in the project, scheduled for discussion in a special meeting on Feb. 27, involves securing council approval of an option agreement with Verogy, which would allow bids to be submitted to the Non-Residential Solar Renewable Energy Solutions program and the Statewide Shared Clean Energy Facility program. The deadlines for these submissions are March 4 and March 14, respectively. 

Town consultants Robert Klee, of Klee Sustainability Advisors LLC, and Sam Dziekan, of CSW Energy LLC, will serve as managers on all project phases until it goes live. 

“It’s a blind bid competing with projects all across Eversource territory, based pretty much solely on price,” Klee told the council. 

According to Klee, the NRES program had 25 bids and 11 winners last year, while SCEF had 22 bids and 11 winners. 

“The takeaway is the only half or less of the bids won,” he said.

In the event that Groton does not win any bids, Klee said the project can’t proceed this year and the town would have to try again next year. 

“These projects do not go forward without the incentive. The incentive helps fund and finance the solar arrays,” Klee said. 

Should the town can secure a SCEF bid, Klee said the project could move forward with a 20-year lease on the property and substantial benefits to the town. Meanwhile, the NRES program, which provides Eversource credits, can be extended by an additional year if the town opts to rebid. 

Councilors questioned how the town and taxpayers would be protected if Verogy were to withdraw, declare bankruptcy, engage in criminal activity, or sell to a buyer unwilling to agree to previous stipulations. 

Public Works Director Greg Hanover told the council that the town attorney was reviewing the option agreement for protections. If Verogy wins its bids, he said, then there will be an additional long-term agreement with the town.

Klee said it was common for companies in the solar industry to perform various roles. 

“[Some] companies originate projects, some construct them, and hold them … for roughly seven years and then often sell them to long-term operations and maintenance entities in the solar world. Some hold for the entire 20 years. That would be contemplated as part of the long-term agreement on how those transfers would happen,” Klee said. 

Of the seven proposals received, Hanover said, Verogy offered the best value and protections for Groton, as well as the most competitive bids for the NRES and SCEF incentive programs. 

Verogy’s proposal also included the highest allowances for interconnection costs to the Eversource grid and a “reasonable and realistic” project schedule of three years for design, permitting and construction, according to Klee. 

Dziekan said Verogy was chosen in part because it’s considered a reputable company with experience in building similar projects.  

“The executive team has successfully installed over 350 commercial and industrial solar projects,” Dziekan said. “They currently have 110 megawatts in various stages of development, and their pipeline for earlier stages of development is another 200 megawatts of solar. And additionally in 2022 and 2023, Verogy was named the number one solar contractor in the state of Connecticut by Solar Power World.”

If the town enters into the option agreement with Verogy and the company is successful with winning bids, Klee said, then the town will enter into a long term, 20-plus-year contract for the construction of solar at the landfill and for allocating electricity to town building accounts. 

The contract will be subject to all necessary town approvals and include removing the solar array at the end of its 20-year life, he added. 

After further discussion, the council voted unanimously to recommend that Town Manager John Burt sign the option agreement at the Feb. 27 meeting.