Although the Village Board remains skeptical, the Newark School Board has opted to join with the town to allow Larsen Engineers to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed solar project at no cost to taxpayers.

Although the Village Board remains skeptical, the Newark School Board has opted to join with the town to allow Larsen Engineers to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed solar project at no cost to taxpayers.

Matt Rankin, renewable energy project associate from Larsen Engineers, is heading the proposal that would help the town, school district and village save on their electric costs over the next 20 to 30 years through solar power. Rankin was looking for a confirmation of interest in the proposal from the school district before moving forward.

Through NYSERDA, the three municipalities have the opportunity receive funding for a solar development project. Larsen would submit grant applications on behalf of each municipality to the same developer. By grouping them together, Rankin said they can receive a better price from a developer, all of which would be negotiated. If the grants are approved, each municipality would sign what is called a purchase power agreement and the developer would construct solar panels at the 161-acre town-owned site where the old landfill is located on Route 88. A typical agreement is usually for 20 to 30 years with a rate set on how much each municipality would pay for energy usage — a rate that decreases over the life of the agreement. Rankin’s feasibility study will provide each municipality with savings estimates at which time they can move forward with the project or back away with no strings attached.

Costs by each municipality, according to Arcadia Supervisor Dick Colacino, are minimal, adding up to attorney fees to review the final agreement and the cost to to install a meter. All other costs will be absorbed by the developer, Rankin said.

“It’s really a very low-risk investment,” he added.

Although the town’s potential savings would be minimal due to the town’s low electricity expenses, the school district and village stand to save significantly. The Village Board expressed their skepticism at their last meeting June 18. Most of their doubts comes from a lack of knowledge about the proposal.

“I’m very uncomfortable with this,” Trustee Kurt Werts said. “The village pays 60 percent of town taxes, but we don’t always get a say in what happens. The village paid 60 percent of the legal fees for the landfill and we never had a say about that issue.”

Members of Concerned Citizens of Arcadia spent the past year fighting a proposed landfill at the very site where the solar project is now being proposed. Lee Calhoun, a Sodus resident and former engineer, has started working with village officials to help them better understand the opportunity before them. Calhoun was a CCOA supporter as a resident whose property butted against the proposed landfill site. Calhoun had presented, on behalf of CCOA, a similar solar proposal to the town last October. He told the board that he has reviewed their electric bills and in his estimation, “there is an opportunity to save money.”

The village, as well as the school district, is currently part of a co-op through Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES that allows them to receive lower utility rates. Both municipalities would have to leave the co-op if they decide to go solar.

“Collectively, we need to find a way for taxpayers in this community to save money,” Trustee Jonathan Taylor said. “This may be it or it may not.”

The Village Board agreed to hold a workshop with Larsen to learn more about the project and find answers to their questions.

Concerned Citizens members are excited to see their community leaders exploring this new venture.

“When we brought the concept of a solar farm to the board last fall we knew it had great possibilities,” said CCOA Vice President Matt Ury. “We are very happy that the town board is now committed to make it a reality. This is a chance to do something very positive for our community.”

Andy Bodine, CCOA president agrees.

“It is a exciting time here in our town, the idea of a solar development here is just what our group has wanted to see for some time,” he said. “The oppurtunity of lower taxes, and having our community looked at as a forward thinking place, that lights its streets and powers its schools with green energy — that vision is one that excites me.”