Despite a yearlong moratorium on solar projects, Riverhead officials are considering a new proposal to bring solar power to Riverhead’s landfill on Youngs Avenue.
The proposal calls for a 3-megawatt solar site on the 70-acre town-owned landfill, which is projected to generate up to 4,327,000 kilowatt-hours per year, according to a proposal from CVE (Changing Visions of Energy), an independent renewable energy company with a headquarters in Manhattan.
David Froelich, director of business development for CVE, told Newsday on April 22 the solar proposal would put the landfill’s space to better use.
“You have this totally wide-open space that you can do virtually nothing on other than plant and grow grass,” Froelich said, “and you can put a bunch of solar power there that for 35 years is going to contribute clean energy … it seems like a great use.”
The presentation Froelich gave to the Riverhead Town Board at their April 21 work session stated that, if built, 100% of electric savings from the solar site could be applied to town-owned facilities, saving the town roughly $71,280 annually and $1.8 million over 25 years in energy costs.
The company’s project estimates say the solar site could generate up to $301,817 in revenue via payment in lieu of taxes, or a PILOT program, and $3.6 million in lease revenue from using the property. The company — which seeks to lease the property for 25 years with two five-year extensions for a total of 35 years — would ask the town to enter into a PILOT agreement with them for the facility for an “assumed” 15-year period, as there is no current property tax on town-owned land.
Discussing environmental concerns, the company’s proposal states no cadmium or other hazardous materials would be used in their panels. Regarding potential concerns from residents over aesthetics or adverse environmental effects, Froelich says the company is willing to talk to residents publicly if the town considers their proposal.
“If this is something that Riverhead is interested in, we would absolutely convene a meeting of the neighborhood and talk about what our plans are and people’s concerns,” Froelich said.
Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar told Newsday on April 22 that although Riverhead had a yearlong moratorium on new commercial solar energy applications, which the town board adopted Oct. 20, the board could make an exception if interested in the CVE proposal. The board will consider the project’s feasibility, in the meantime.
“It’s really in its exploratory phase,” Aguiar said.
On whether the town has any concerns about a PILOT agreement, Aguiar said, “There is a benefit to the town and to taxpayers because there will be funds provided to the town. And we always explore different types of funding for our town.”