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Council to Consider Bond Measure on French's Landfill Solar Field

Solar field would be built at French's Landfill site

A solar field built at the former French's Landfill site on Sally Ike Road would save Brick taxpayers $13 million over 15 years – then more after that, a team of experts associated with the project said Tuesday night.

A group of individuals representing companies responsible for planning, arranging financing, designing and facilitating the project gathered at the township municipal complex to provide new details on the plan to install solar panels at the former Superfund site, which is now being outfitted with a permanent cap.

"The solar panels were a nice passive use of the facility," said Noreen White, the township's financial advisor on the project.

Financial Questions

On Feb. 14, township council members will vote on whether to float bonds which will come to about $23 million. But under a redeveloper's agreement, a private company – not taxpayers – will pay back the debt.

"The township is at virtually no risk of the taxpayers ever having to pay the debt service on the bonds," White said.

Here's how the plan will work, according to officials: The township will borrow the cost to build the solar field at a special low interest rate only available to municipalities. Standard Alternative, LLC, the company selected to redevelop the site, will then reimburse the township as money is disbursed.

The township will benefit from an upfront $2.5 million payment from Standard Alternative as well as annual rent of the property between $50,000 and $85,000, depending on how much energy the site produces. After 15 years, the township will own the property outright, and will be able to generate electricity for property owned by the township and BTMUA, as well as sell solar energy credits to the power company for a profit.

In exchange, Standard Alternative will make money from the deal over the next 15 years by selling its own energy credits generated by the site.

During the 15 year period, the township and BTMUA will also be able to purchase energy for about 40 percent less than the rate at which they are currently paying, saving a minimum of about $300,000 per year, according to Business Administrator Scott Pezarras.

Over the course of 15 years, especially after the Oyster Creek nuclear generating station in Lacey shuts down in 2019, the savings on electrical costs could grow even more, said Thomas Brys, an energy consultant who worked on the project.

"Oyster Creek represents base load electricity that significantly reduces electric rates in service area," Brys said. "With that major change, it will go up significantly, unfortunately. That adds to the savings greatly."

Current models show the township eventually saving as much as $600,000 per year in energy costs.

Financially, officials said multiple layers of protections are added in to shield taxpayers from ending up on the losing side of the deal. The project is backed by multiple guarantors, and if Standard Alternative were to go out of business, the energy generated by the station would generate far more revenue than the township would be required to pay in debt service.

"If they default on anything, they're gone, and we have the fully functioning array which is enough to more than cover the debt service," said Township Attorney Jean Cipriani.

As to why the township couldn't simply build the array itself: special incentives that lower the cost of the project are only available to private companies under the Obama administration's stimulus package. The idea was to create jobs in the private sector, officials said.

Tech Specs

Standard Alternative, a company created a year ago and based in Hoboken, is owned 90 percent by another company, Iron State Development. That company was responsible for developing Pier Village in Long Branch, skyscrapers in Jersey City, marinas on the Hudson River and overseeing the Essex and Sussex project in Spring Lake.

Standard Alternative is a wing of Iron State that will focus on alternative energy redevelopment, according to Sam Faivus, the company's president.

"We are very, very experienced in redevelopment projects, brownfield projects," Faivus said.

The actual arrays will be constructed by Orion Energy Systems, a national company that designs large-scale energy projects for companies and public entities.

Orion representatives said solar panels can last for as many as 30 to 40 years, and are warrantied for 20 years. Faivus said after the site is turned over to the township in 15 years, the panels will generate about 80 to 85 percent or more of the energy they generated when new.

The solar field will take between 12 and 18 months to build, officials said, but neighbors should not worry about noise from construction.

"The construction activity for building a solar plant on top of a closed landfill is very different from capping a landfill," Brys said. "There is virtually no noise in the construction of a solar plant. There's no banging or digging, by design."

The site will also be aesthetically pleasing, Brys said, with part of the project focused on planting trees and green grass at the tract. Security systems will also be installed.

The Bottom Line

Between the upfront payment, lease fees and energy savings, township taxpayers stand to save about $13 million over the 15 years the redeveloper's agreement with Standard Alternative will remain in place, according to Cipriani. More revenue will be generated after that once the township takes full control of the site.

Township council members are set to vote next week on whether to award the bonds which would enable the project to move forward.

As for the capping process, officials say it is on schedule

J.JONES February 10, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Knarfie..you know I always went out my way to talk to ex-mayor Joe because face to face he seemed like a nice guy and he didnt act like you were bothering him..But I can't say That about mayor evil eye Acrop..You know he's always been sarcastic ,rude,etc get my point..Never did and never will like him ..needs to go..But let me say who ever takes his position better come out and stick to his promises and clean up this mess as soon as possible and the 2 inline better start living up to there promises to support the families of Brick..
J.JONES February 10, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I would just like to say with the advancements in solar power and electronics ..something purchased can be out dated in a few months..and we have to deal with this for 25 yrs..and the last 10 years will be profitable..WOW YOUR KIDDING ME ?? Tax payers will and are going to be screwed for 25 years ++...I'm hoping to be around to see those profits...hahahaha..
paul b February 10, 2012 at 09:34 PM
knarfie, you could not be more right! Mayor Acropolis and his Boss Juan Bellu or should I say Juan Bellu and his Boss Mayor Acropolis (interchangeable -isn't that unethical, immoral, and just plain wrong) taint anything that may be good for the people. In this case, I do believe that the project needs to move forward. It is a shame that the Mayor and his incompetent employer/employee lack credibility and therefore lend shame to anything that they touch.
Joseph Lamb February 10, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Lt. Gov. Guadagno was at a event today marking the opening of a 140,000 square foot facility in Wall for Trinity Solar with its 415 employees . Lt. Gov. Guadagno said that Trinity Solar was the largest solar employer in the state, the largest solar integrator on the East Coast and installs more solar panels than its 10 closest competitors combined. How did Brick not have this company as a bidder on the French's Landfill Solar Project? Maybe the bid specs were tailored too much towards Standard Alternative? This is nonsense that Brick only received one bid.
Not Sure February 11, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Who cares about the bid, how about we see some numbers on how the other projects in town are doing, like the solar panels on Brick Memorial High School and the Municipal complex. Are these solar panel installations producing what was promised??. We will certainly never see a return on the wind turbine installed at the Drum Point sports complex for $175,000.00.
John C February 11, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Not sure I don't think the town was the lead on the Drum Point Windmill I think that was a Board of Education project primariloy and It was financed by a grant. I dont think there was much out of pocket expense.
John C February 11, 2012 at 01:53 AM
stop stirring the pot trying to create problems where non may exist you are starting to sound like you have a paranoid personality.
John C February 11, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Did they bid on the project?
John C February 11, 2012 at 01:54 AM
In addition to the SRECs there is also the electricity generated by the site.
John C February 11, 2012 at 01:58 AM
How about SLFL & CIFF - Stop Lamb From Lying and Creating Imaginary Financial Figures
Dawn Marie White February 11, 2012 at 04:14 AM
If the company goes belly up we get the panels and the profit. Check your facts and when you know for sure that this project is anything but in the best interest of Brick tax payers, then make your case by stating fact not opinion or spin.....
Mrgrumpass February 11, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Mr. Lamb I can’t understand what drives you to make all types of semi –true-accusations and untrue statements always hoping something will stick, who appointed you advocate for the towns energy program, for the elderly, for public works, and education? You always have something derogatory and inflammatory to say regarding the present town administration! I expect your dedication to semi-truthful facts regarding the new council member’s decisions in the near future!
paul b February 11, 2012 at 04:41 PM
That may sound good in theory and makes good for a thirty second sound bite but we elected our officials to make these types of decisions. We can not expect citizens to be responsible for a matter of this magnitude when they may or may not be well-versed on the subject. For quite some time this issue has been discussed at Council Meetings. This is not the first time it has been brought to our attention. Let's remember that the Township was mandated to Cap the Landfill and as a consequence careful consideration has been given to the project in its entirety. Folks should run for office if they want to make these types of decisions.
Joseph Lamb February 12, 2012 at 04:22 PM
If Stanbdard Alternative goes belly up, it will because the revenue generated won't cover the expenses. At that point when Brick takes the solar field over, Brick will be incurring losses as well.
John C February 12, 2012 at 05:24 PM
That is the first reasonable and honest statement that you have ever made in public. Now lets have an honest and open discussion on why you feel this way other than you hate the Mayor and will do anything possible to trash him. Why do you approach everything this admin does as an opponent and in a dishonest way? There are laws and requirements to put together a municipal project and to issue bonds. Why do you act like the town is doing this blindly and without any expert input?? Don't you think that the Energy Consultant and Township Financial Advisor have been consulted to advise the Township and calculated the size and scope of the project and determined how much energy can be generated at a site of this size and calculated the cost and the financing and bond payments to make work? Of course you do you are just trying to create negative spin and dissent.
paul b February 12, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Yes I do remember Ed Mueller, and I do agree that nonpartisan form of government may help alleviate some of the problems that you mention but it is not the panacea. Previous post ". . . Mayor Acropolis and his Boss Juan Bellu or should I say Juan Bellu and his Boss Mayor Acropolis (interchangeable -isn't that unethical, immoral, and just plain wrong) taint anything that may be good for the people. In this case, I do believe that the project needs to move forward. It is a shame that the Mayor and his incompetent employer/employee lack credibility and therefore lend shame to anything that they touch." "If men were angels, no Government would be necessary. . . In framing a Government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the Government to control the governed . . . but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. " I respectfully disagree with you that no self respecting person would be a member of either party. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison put much thought and consideration when penning THE FEDERALIST PAPERS in support of our Nation's Constitution. Let no man disuade us from participating in our Government no matter how hard they might try. We must continue to express our opinions and join in the conversation. Why should they get to determine our fate?
knarfie February 13, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Lets be honest I don't know where you are going, with Ed Mueller, but you obviously didn't know him too well. Without besmirching someone who has passed on, I will make nofurtyher comment.
knarfie February 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Never thought he was dishonest or didn't care for this town. And you are right. Scarpelli and Acropolis were only in it for their personal gain.
Eric Witter March 11, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Why did they clear all the mature oaks around the site? They could have put enough panels internal to the site. It looks horrendous and will lower home values around there. It is pure greed. the mayors office should be the job trailer on that site.
Scott Pezarras March 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Eric It was required in order for the Twp to install the EPA required "cap" on the landfill. The cap is rubber compound and will be rolled over the landfill and then covered with aggregate, sand, and then a top layer so water cannot penetrate into the ground over the material in the landfill.
Joseph Lamb March 12, 2012 at 10:21 PM
It's amazing that the Acropolis administration states that the federal government demanded Brick cap the landfill but Brick didn't receive a penny from the federal government even though the federal government provides funds for other superfund clean up sites. Why is it that Brick under this administration seems to be in that negative category? One of 14 towns out of 566 to have a referendum question. The highest municipal tax rate increase in the state. The BTMUA was the only one of 31 public water systems tested by the EPA to have a likely carcinogen that is at a level to require testing. Because the BTMUA didn't bring this to the EPAs attention and the EPA found it, the EPA is requiring that the testing be performed by an outside independent lab.
John C March 14, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Pure fantasy. As always spouting made up facts and figures that have no basis in reality. I would sugguest going to public meetings and asking any questions you may have and not listening to anything he says. The truth is available and has been told to him on many occasions, he just chooses to ignore it to spread his hate and lies.
BW March 14, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Yes John the truth is available, too bad no one in town hall or elsewhere wants to tell it. Can you imagine giving 34 million to a shell company, a company run out of a high rise apartment in Hoboken.
John C March 14, 2012 at 01:25 AM
BW yes just ask because I received the answer about the company that was set up to handle this project when I asked. It was pretty simple and made perfect legal and business sense when it was explained to me. It is nothing different than what developers do when starting a new project. You just need to get the correct answer from the person that has it rather than listening to Mr Lamb's propaganda and the other nameless hate mongers with a political agenda on the blogs and news sites!
BW March 14, 2012 at 01:34 AM
John I did plenty of research on my own, I did not rely on anyone. Standard alternative is a shell company set up by a lawyer (interesting). The "office" of this shell company is located in an apartment in a high rise building in Hoboken. Steve lead us to believe this company had billions in assests, when the truth is it did not, and this company have NEVER done a project like this before. If this company was legit, they would have posted a surity bond to cover expenses incase they took off and let us holding the bag. Instead they give a letter of credit, which btw I have been unable to see when I asked, and the town is issuing bonds to cover the project, minus a measly 2.5 million "deposit" this shell gave us. I also find it interesting that they dismissed Pineland Development, and supposedly put it back out for bid, and this "paper company" was the only one to bid. To quote Steve "something doesnt smell right.
John C March 14, 2012 at 01:38 AM
The parent company has done several projects like this one and sets up a new corporation to oversee each individual project, the same thing a large developer does when begining a new housing development. Nothing sinister in those cases.
BW March 14, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I am very versed in how the bidding process works. And your spin is interesting. We used to do work for Hovanian (sp) and he NEVER set up a new corporation for a new project, he over saw every project himself. (had to laugh when he pulled in in his vet, with a girl 25 years his junior at his side) He would advertise for bids for framers, masons, plumbers, etc. He would then award the bid and you got paid by him, not some dummy corporation in someones bathroom of a high rise. Please save me your spin. I KNOW 1st hand how the process works.
Scott Pezarras March 14, 2012 at 04:42 AM
BW You are misinformed the company has agreed to offer a construction bond for the completion of the array, and they will be responsible to pay the debt service. This was discussed at many Council meetings in the past.
Scott Pezarras March 14, 2012 at 04:47 AM
BW I don't think you are familiar with the process for a redevelopment site, which the Landfill project is, it does not follow regular bidding laws under the Local Public Contracts Law. Hovnanian wouldn't follow this practice either because it is not a public entity. It is a private for profit entity.
knarfie March 14, 2012 at 12:32 PM
BW This all may be perfectly legitimate. The problem is, this administration has been so sleazy and self serving, the worst Brick has ever had, that anything it is involved with is subject to doubt. John Cs' comments must br taken with a grain of salt, as he has this Mayor on a pedestal for some reason I can't understand, yet he sounds like an intelligent person.

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