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Council Revises French's Landfill Solar Agreement

Mayor comes out against the plan, claims taxpayers are at risk

A revised redeveloper's agreement with Standard Alternative, LLC to build a solar farm at the former French's Landfill site has the potential to generate more revenue for the township, but also adds more risk, some say.

The township council last week voted 5-1 in favor of the new agreement, which sets a fixed interest rate at which Standard Alternative must pay back money the town bonds for the construction of the solar array, lowers the price at which the township and BTMUA will buy energy generated by the array and allows the township to share in the profits of solar renewable energy credits generated at the site at a certain price.

The township has always agreed to borrow the money to build the solar farm, with Standard Alternative paying the debt service. That, for the most part, hasn't changed.

Previously, however, Standard Alternative would have been required to repay all of the money the township borrows to construct the solar array at whatever interest rate at which the township borrowed it. Now, Standard Alternative will repay the money at a fixed 4.5 percent rate regardless of the rate at which the township borrows the money.

The township will bond $34 million total for the project. If the interest rate is below 4.5 percent, the township will generate revenue since Standard Alternative will be required to pay the town back at a higher rate.

The concern with the new plan, according to Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis, would be what would happen if interest rates rise by the time the bonds are financed. He said taxpayers would be "on the hook" if interest rates rise above 4.5 percent by the time the final financing is completed.

"They put something through that puts the taxpayers at risk," said Acropolis. "There are people who are just trying to put their mark on things, and they are not listening to the professionals."

Business Administrator Scott Pezarras said the bonds would be financed for good once the solar array is completed, which could take 15 to 18 months after construction begins. In the mean time, financing will be done through a number of short-term measures, similar to a bridge loan homebuyers can receive. The purpose of the short-time financing is to make sure the solar array is actually built before the bulk of the money is borrowed.

The township stands to generate revenue if the price of solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs, jumps above $600 in the open market. Brick would get 25 percent of the revenue from SRECs sold based on the power generated at the site if they reach that price level. Also, if throughout 15 year period that Standard Alternative owns the solar array, the average SREC is $400 or more, the township will receive money in an escrow account.

The price of New Jersey SRECs were about $155 before the Independence Day holiday, according to SRECTrade, Inc.

"We basically, now, are a partner, whereas before we were a landlord," said Pezarras.

Acropolis said he may refuse to sign the new redeveloper's agreement, though his signature is considered honorary in nature. He also said he may speak with the township attorney about having Council President John Ducey sign the new agreement instead of himself.

Ducey said he had not heard about the mayor's potential refusal to sign the agreement, but defended the revised plan, saying it would generate more revenue for the taxpayers.

"We were able to lock in Standard Alternative to paying 4.5 percent," said Ducey, of the bond rate.

Ducey also said taxpayers will save money by paying less for the electricity produced by the array.

Under the agreement, Standard Alternative will pay for the array and own it for 15 years, during which time the company will sell energy to the township at a reduced rate. Brick will take ownership of the array after the 15 year period.

Councilman Jim Fozman was the sole council member to vote against the revised plan. Councilman Domenick Brando was not at the meeting.

Lil'DragonMom July 05, 2012 at 12:38 PM
My concern is the manufacturing and disposal of this product. Solar panels are made with cadmium and arsenic. So between this "farm" and all the roof top panels around town, where will they be disposed when the solar panels are at the end of solar "life"? None of these last forever, and I don't want to be living next to a solar panel dump.
JD July 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Total BS... I have to go back on council comments, etc... We were told, Brick will get paid 1% above what the loan rate obtained by brick muni thereby making a profit on the loan!! I even have an email from Dan Toth stating such (12/22/11)... and it was said at a council meeting. Clearly these people voting on these contracts never read what is inside the contract.
Glenn July 05, 2012 at 01:07 PM
$600 SREC's, are you out of your minds. The more solar fields that are built will cause more SREC's to be come available in basically a market where their need is stable and not growing. Supply will overrun the need and prices will continue to plument. Once worth $600, now $155 and still declining.
BW July 05, 2012 at 01:11 PM
The whole solar farm thing is a joke. SREC's are falling because of the shear number of these farms being built. By the time this one gets done, they will be under 100.
JD July 05, 2012 at 01:12 PM
It's called smoke and mirrors... and Pezarras math!!! I long ago was against this plan... Brick should not be in the business of business. They should just rent the facility to the solar company and that is 0% risk to the taxpayer. Brick current electric bill is ONLY $600,000 or there abouts.... a 20% savings is only $120,000/yr... they probably spent that much on legal fees for this deal!!!
JD July 05, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Here is a link to SERC trading prices this year... ranges from $100 to 650... about a 350 average. http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/project-activity-reports/srec-pricing/srec-pricing
JD July 05, 2012 at 01:19 PM
It's called Pezarras math... someone who is never held accountable for his smoke and mirrors!!
Chief Wahoo July 05, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Fire Scott Pezzaras
JD July 05, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I've said that for years!!!
JD July 05, 2012 at 02:00 PM
BW & Glenn... You are correct... SERC prices are on a downward trend... Probably will average $200 by the time the solar project starts up...
Maureen K. Mitchell July 05, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Do you all realize that Scott is also the part-time business administrator for Lavallette? SOOOOO.....we got the double dipper again!
BW July 05, 2012 at 06:20 PM
maureen do not forget Ocean gate and Keyport. Scott is a quadruple dipper.
Chief Wahoo July 05, 2012 at 06:34 PM
the solar pyramid scam is over and yet here are the Brick dunces looking to get in at the worst possible time !!!!......the taxpayers are sheep !
Chief Wahoo July 05, 2012 at 06:36 PM
since i always rip the liars and greedy pigs.....let me say , good job to Fozman for using common sense
Chief Wahoo July 05, 2012 at 06:37 PM
"We basically, now, are a partner, whereas before we were a landlord," said Pezarras. So Pezzaras, how much DO YOU LOSE , when the "partnership" blows up in our faces
none of yobusiness July 05, 2012 at 09:49 PM
What i want to know is who is going to cut all that grass they have been planting on this site?
Typical Obama Voter July 05, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Taxpayers will get burned by this stupid deal. Just like the Acrapolis Yacht Club
BW July 05, 2012 at 10:25 PM
At summerfest. And what do I see? Acropolis standing atthe waste management table thanking them for coming and to make sure they tell people how much cheaper it would be to go with them then to have the town collect it. Apparently he is working on another plan to close public works!
JD July 06, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Waste Managment is cheaper than Public Works.. that is a fact.
P.T July 06, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Wow Fozman broke off from mega spender Ducey. It is not taking long for some folks to see what a spend-a-maniac Ducey is.
Joseph Lamb July 06, 2012 at 04:47 PM
The price of solar panels has decreased 40 % in the past year because of the glut of solar panels from China, Germany and others including the U.S. Where is the reduction in the $34 million? The interest rate over the next year will most likely remain constant because of the economy but beyond that it will most likely move up.
Meanwhile, you guys take full responsibility for maintaining fifteen year-old equipment as the end-game... Hmmmm. There are better plans - and there may be better folks to do this with.
shorecorruption December 11, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Why would you pay out $34 million for a solar farm someone else will own.And when you do own it,it's at the end of it's life cycle.Some school building's need some work, .
shorecorruption December 11, 2012 at 04:53 AM
If Brick owns it from day one,and has NET metering,$$$$$$

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