Dover working toward increased solar energy

DOVER — The city of Dover is moving closer to increasing its renewable energy assets in the form of additional solar energy.

With the added sun power, city officials hope to diversify its current mix of resources when it comes to energy.

Following a closed-door executive session prior to Monday night’s meeting of Dover City Council, Councilman David Anderson moved for the city to get locked into agreements that he thinks could be favorable for the city’s future.

His motion authorized city manager Donna Mitchell to enter into one or more agreements with solar projects up to a maximum 75 megawatt hours of solar capacity which results in a blended PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with a price not to exceed $42 in megawatt hours delivered for a term not to exceed 25 years.

The motion was approved unanimously.
Councilman Anderson said it was a deal that will bring lower energy rates for the city’s taxpayers over the coming years.

A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost.

The developer sells the power generated to the host customer at a fixed rate that is typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate.
This lower electricity price serves to offset the customer’s purchase of electricity from the grid while the developer receives the income from these sales of electricity as well as any tax credits and other incentives generated from the system.

Donna Mitchell

Dover officials, working in conjunction with The Energy Authority (TEA), began soliciting bids for renewable energy generation — solar and/or solar plus storage — in early April in the hope of diversifying the city’s current mix of resources when it comes to energy.

Interested bidders submitted an Intent to Bid form, participated in a pre-bid conference and submitted their proposal in accordance with request for proposal (RFP) guidelines, according to Gregory Haynes, Renewables Integration Manager for TEA.

“The city of Dover has a new initiative,” Mr. Haynes said. “They would like the opportunity to increase their new renewable energy platform, either locally, or through a Power Purchase Agreement.

“This will supplant the amount of non-renewable energy they bring in for the benefit of their customers.”

He added that the city is looking to create a future of sustainable energy and its utility customers by providing reliable power with a cleaner, more sustainable energy resource mix and that it is also taking a step forward with plans to reduce market exposure and carbon footprint, increase self-reliance and be a leader in exceeding regulated utility renewable and sustainability goals.

“This will be in addition (to Dover’s power supply),” Mr. Haynes said, of the city looking to diversify its current resource mix. “This will be another tool in the toolbox but will be 100 percent renewable energy.”

Mrs. Mitchell said it is good for the city to have as many clean, renewable options as it can when it comes to energy production, especially if they are affordable.

Councilman Anderson said he thought the initial solar contract reached by the city with White Oak Solar Energy LLC in 2010 was unfair to taxpayers.

He said he wasn’t happy with the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard Compliance and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative requirements.
Councilman Anderson did not see those kinds of issues with the new agreements Dover is looking at in the future.
“It looks like it will be a really good agreement for the city and for its taxpayers,” he said.

Dover’s current solar-power center, the 103-acre Dover Sun Park located at The Garrison Oak Technology Park, has 34,000 solar panels that can produce 10 megawatts.

Delaware has committed to generating 25 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025, with a quarter of the state’s renewable energy expected to be generated using solar technology.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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