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Eleven companies eyeing solar at Southold Town landfill

Four years after a proposal for a solar array collapsed, Southold officials are again considering plans to harness solar energy from atop the Cutchogue landfill.

Eleven companies responded to a request for proposals for the development of renewable energy, including solar photovoltaic systems and battery energy storage at the landfill on Cox Lane.

Earlier this year, developers from Summit Ridge Energy presented the town with an unsolicited offer to lease a portion of the landfill for a solar array, which set plans in motion again.

After that proposal was discussed, board member Robert Ghosio said multiple other companies expressed interest in the site, prompting the board to issue a request for proposals in late February.

Town attorney Bill Duffy said in February that the board wanted to explore alternative renewable energy options.

“Instead of it just being solar, it seems battery storage is a new type of renewable energy and, just based on some of the people in the industry we’ve talked to, they’re expecting Long Island Power Authority to issue an RFP for that soon,” he said. “So we want to be prepared to have plans ready to go for that, because there’s some indication that there haven’t been a lot of RFPs for solar lately.”

In December 2015, the town gave the solar power company SunEdison permission for leasing rights at the property for three years, but plans soon fell through as the company was headed toward bankruptcy. In 2018, the Town Board adopted code to prevent further land clearing to make way for new solar projects, with the exception of shrubs, underbrush and trees less than six inches in diameter.

Last year, a solar array at the Southold Town Animal Shelter opened, providing a source of renewable energy and shaded area for dogs in their outdoor pens. That project was the result of a partnership between the town and SUNation Solar Systems.

Several of the companies that submitted bids cited previous experience constructing solar fields at decommissioned landfills across the country. The bids were initially due to the town board in April; however the deadline was extended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lease terms and rates ranged in the proposals, which are available for review on the town’s Laserfiche site.

The bids received include:

• A 9.3 megawatt community solar project and option to explore battery storage by AC Power, a New York City-based company.

• A 3.9 megawatt solar project and 2.5 megawatt battery storage facility by BQ Energy Development of Wappingers Falls. The company estimates the facility could supply 3,053 megawatt hours of electricity to the community.

• Approximately 3 megawatts of solar by Community Power Group of Washington D.C.

• A 3 megawatt project proposed by CVE North America, based in Manhattan.

• Dimension Renewable Energy of New York City proposed two scenarios: A 10.62 megawatt solar array, with the additional option of adding 27.14 megawatt battery storage facility.

• San Diego based EDF Renewables proposed either a 2, 2.5 or 3 megawatt facility with corresponding land lease rates.

• An Albany-based company, Key Capture Energy, has proposed a 60 megawatt lithium ion battery energy storage system and substation to be constructed on ten acres northwest of the landfill at the Cutchogue property, citing that the capped landfill cannot support the load of the system. “There will be sufficient room for another developer to construct a mounted solar photovoltaic array on the rest of the site,” the developers wrote in their proposal. 

• NRStor of Buffalo submitted plans for a 3.45 megawatt solar array that could be coupled with a 12 megawatt battery storage facility.

• A proposal submitted by Penney for Energy of Bay Shore proposes installing 15,600 320-watt modules at the site for a lease term of 20 years.

• A bid response submitted by Renewable Properties, a San Francisco based company, did not include specifics for a Cutchogue project but rather general terms for a lease. “As you will quickly realize, we have not been able to conform our offer to the bid solicitation requirements. Repeated attempts made by our office via phone and email over the past few days to find out the submission requirements all failed,” a project developer wrote in a letter faxed to the town clerk dated July 17.

• Summit Ridge Energy of Virginia proposed a 5 megawatt solar field and 4 megawatt battery storage system.

A more in-depth discussion on the proposals received is expected to take place with town engineer Michael Collins at an upcoming work session. Then the board may narrow down the pool by inviting representatives from three or four of the strongest pitches to present their plans to the entire board.

“I’d really like to get that going,” Mr. Ghosio said Tuesday. “Get it wrapped up and make a selection sometime in September so we can get that project off the ground.”