The township council voted to authorize $34 million in bonds which will fund the construction of a solar field at the former French's Landfill site in the township's Herbertsville section.
Though the township will borrow the money, it will be the company that will redevelop the former federal Superfund site.
The council voted 6-1 in favor of the project, with Councilman Jim Fozman representing the sole 'no' vote.
Though the bond authorization allows for the bonds to be repaid over a period of up to 20 years, the redeveloper's agreement calls for the money to be repaid in 15 years or less.
Over those 15 years, Standard Alternative will own the solar array that is expected to be built at the site, but will pay annual lease payments to the township and provide the township will heavily discounted electricity.
After the 15 year lease ends, the township will take full control of the solar array and will be able to use the energy produced to fully cover the township and BTMUA's energy bills and generate additional revenue, officials have said.
The solar panels have a working life of between 20 and 30 years, according to Sam Faivus, president of Standard Alternative.
Some of the details of the deal – specifically, whether the town should share in the profits of the solar renewable energy certificates revenue generated by the site – are still being worked out. If the prices of the certificates, known as SRECs, rise significantly they could be worth millions of dollars.
But while the idea received broad council support, Fozman said the deal with Standard Alternative was not as good for the township as he would have hoped.
"Solar fields are good. There's nothing wrong with solar fields," said Fozman. "I didn't like the art of the deal."
Fozman said he was concerned that the SREC program would end in 15 years, just as the township would take full control of the array.
"I was looking for a better deal out of this whole thing," he said.
But Council President John Ducey said the governing body is working on a revised deal – the details of which can not yet be revealed due to ongoing negotiations – with Standard Alternative that could produce additional revenue for the township.
"The terms are better than what we had before Jan. 1," said Ducey, adding that an offer to share in potential SREC revenue is already on the table.
The landfill site, located off Sally Ike Road, is .
The township has owned the site since the 1970s. The landfill itself had operated from the late 1940s to April 1979.