Newport, seat of Sullivan county, is set to install 1.6 megawatts of solar PV at three sites: a field adjacent to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, at the town water pump station, and on the town’s capped landfill. The projects will collectively offset all energy consumption in town buildings, including the schools, the library, and other regularly occupied municipal facilities. Newport has also recently converted all of its building- and streetlighting to LED.
The 1.6 megawatt solar projects are scheduled to be voted on at town meeting in May. If approved, construction will begin immediately thereafter. The street and building LED conversion processes began in Summer 2017 and took roughly 6-9 months to complete.
The solar project will be financed via Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and owned by Norwich Solar Technologies, allowing the town to implement the project at no upfront cost. The project will reduce Newport energy bills by approximately $20,000 annually.
The streetlight conversions are saving the town of 6,500 residents between $60,000-$70,000 per year. The building lighting upgrades provide an additional $10,000-$12,000 in annual savings. The lighting conversions have a payback period of 6 months and are funded in part through the Eversource Smart Start Municipal Program.
Eversource served as a key partner in lighting conversions, providing technical support and guiding the town through rebate and incentive programs.
One challenge to implementing streetlight conversions is obtaining an accurate inventory of streetlights from the utility company. In many cases streetlight fixtures have remained largely unchanged for decades and there can be discrepancies between what is listed in the accounts and what towns actually have on the ground.
Sullivan County is following Newport’s lead by exploring opportunities to implement solar projects on some of its underutilized land. Newport staff are also working with the town’s largest employer on a 5 megawatt system that will help the business cut costs.
“There are only upsides to these types of projects,” says Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg. “The faster you can do it, the sooner you will start to realize the benefits. We are already realizing savings and putting those savings to good use. It also sends the right message that we as a town want to be responsible in our power consumption.”