MILLVILLE – A solar power development firm will soon ask Atlantic City Electric to consider a proposal to use an existing power generation facility in South Millville to provide electricity to all municipal facilities, including City Hall.
Synergy LLC secured municipal approval to file an “interconnection request” with the utility after the firm’s principals outlined the idea to the City Commission on Tuesday. The utility will be asked whether its power grid could accept the new use.
The utility is expected to take up to eight weeks to evaluate the practicality of the idea and respond, according to Synergy.
The City Commission consented but on a 3-to-2 vote, splitting on whether it was prudent to act quickly or to postpone a vote until April. The commission introduced its 2019 budget on Tuesday, as well, and a budget-associated tax increase flavored the debate.
Commissioner Joseph Pepitone presented the idea and introduced the necessary resolution. It made no sense to delay when it was clear there were no legal or financial risks to the city, he argued.
“I’m concerned about any type of savings that we could garner as quickly as possible,” Pepitone said. “Often, I see from my perspective, government tends to chug so slowly. And with the situation where our counsel is telling, for this next step, there’s no issue to the city, there’s no harm that could come from this. I don’t understand why we put this off again and again.”
Vineland Police Chief Rudy Beu and Millville Police Chief Jody Farabella speak about the need for police worn body cameras during Tuesday’s Millville City Commission meeting.
Adam Monacelli, Vineland Daily Journal
Mayor Michel Santiago and Commissioner Ashleigh Udalovas opposed clearing Synergy to apply.
Santiago stressed the usual protocol would be to advertise for competing proposals.
Udalovas wanted time for a legal review of the idea.
Synergy’s case was made by two of its principals, Steve Durst and Steve Trumbo. Two points they stressed were that the project only goes ahead with Atlantic City Electric approval and, even if the utility approves the interconnection request, the city is not bound to go ahead with the project.
Trumbo also stressed that an approved application would belong to the city, not his firm. “You can pick a different solar company,” he added.
Durst, to a question from Pepitone, said it would take roughly nine months from now to have a working connection to the Atlantic City Electric power grid. The city could start seeing savings late this year or by January 2020 in the range of $11,000 to $12,000 a month, he said.
Durst has previous contacts with Millville as part of the company that developed Union Lake Crossing shopping center. He also was involved in building a 1.5-megawatt solar power facility on municipal sewer utility land off Fowser Road.
The city and a company, Mill-Green Partners LLC, reached a power purchasing agreement in December 2011 for the sewer utility facility. The facility was in operation in December 2012. The city picked Mill-Green over another firm that sought to do the project.
The sewer utility power purchasing agreement is for 15 years. The facility is privately owned, with the city’s commitment is to buy electricity at a reduced cost. The facility owner recoups its costs by having the city locked in as a customer. A solar power subsidiary of South Jersey Industries has bought the power facility.
On Thursday, Durst said the existing solar power facility in South Millville may need upgrades but that determination would need input from the electric utility.
Joseph P. Smith; jpsmith_dj; (856) 563-5252; email@example.com
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