Salem County Renewable Energy Program
Salem County Improvement Authority Commences
Solar Photovoltaic Project to Save Salem County on Electrical Costs
(SALEM, NJ) At their regular meeting on July 25, 2011, the Salem County Improvement Authority (SCIA) commenced a solar photovoltaic project that will save the County over $550,000 per year on the County’s electric bill. The new solar panels will be either roof or ground-mounted at the County Correctional Facility, Vocational School, Agriculture Building, Emergency Service Building and the County’s new Five Star Plaza offices in Salem City. In 2010, the SCIA hired Salmon Ventures, Ltd. of Millville to complete a Solar Project Feasibility Study, which demonstrated the feasibility and estimated cost savings to the County from the installation of solar panels at these major county electrical users. The Salmon Ventures report found that the use of solar power systems would save the County over $12 million in the first 15 years of operation. At their regular meeting on July 20, the Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders gave the SCIA the “green light” to move forward on the project.
Today’s action commences the next phase of the project. The Authority approved the hiring of three professional firms to assist the SCIA and the County develop the engineering plans, specifications and bidding documents related to the planned solar photovoltaic projects. Following the issuance of a Request for Proposals and the evaluation of the proposals submitted by experienced and qualified firms, the SCIA agreed to hire CME Associates as Solar Energy Engineer, Gable Associates as Solar Energy Financial Analyst and DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole, LLP as special legal counsel for the project. These firms will work in collaboration with the SCIA in order to deliver plans for the solar projects.
“The SCIA is anxious to start this important project as quickly as possible so that the County will be able to benefit from immediate savings in their annual electrical bills” said Michael Burke, Chairman of the SCIA. “I am confident that we have compiled an excellent team of professionals who at the top of their field and will enable us to meet our aggressive timetable.”
Freeholder Bruce Bobbitt, who serves as the Freeholder Board Liaison to the SCIA, commented, “This is the type of project that Salem County can support because of the numerous advantages they bring to the County. These projects help to control spending by reducing energy costs, thereby helping to reduce the tax burden on our residents. Projects such as these will create jobs for our residents and increase spending in our local businesses. The installation of solar systems at these facilities will assist in making Salem County more energy independent and achieve the larger goal of using clean, renewable energy”.
Burke further explained that “the SCIA is also planning to have the solar panels financed and paid for by a private developer, thus reducing the financial risk to the SCIA and the County.”
“With new state and federal incentives currently in place, this type of renewable energy project will be a win-win for the taxpayers and the private-sector solar developers, who will aggressively bid on this significant project, commented Freeholder David Lindenmuth, chairman of the Salem County Shared Services Task Force. “We have been looking at this type of project for quite some time now and it will be rewarding to see it come to fruition.”
Deborah Turner-Fox, the Executive Director of the SCIA praised the Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the County Administrative and Operational staff for their desire to move this project forward at this critical time. “The Authority plans to have the engineering plans and the financial analyses completed in early fall and have the construction and development contracts awarded before the end of the year so that the 30% federal grant can be secured, thus reducing the electrical supply cost to the County. We look forward to working closely with the County and the various facility managers in a cooperative manner to insure the success of this project.”
The solar installations will be completed throughout 2012 and the bill savings will begin as soon as the new solar systems are tied into the buildings next year.