The Shelter Island Town Board agreed last week to sign a letter of intent with American Capital Energy for a solar energy project that has the potential to save the town money and would require no cash outlay for installation of the units.
American Capital Energy, of Lowell, Massachusetts, with an office in Larchmont, New York, would bear the costs of installation — but it all depends on LIPA accepting the firm as part of its Feed-In Tariff program.
The letter of intent isn’t binding, according to Town Attorney Laury Dowd, but it will allow the company to begin the process of applying for participation in the LIPA program.
Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. told the board time was of the essence because the LIPA program began accepting applications in July and would agree to only a limited number of projects.
There were no estimate of the possible cost savings for the town.
Mr. Card identified a number of possible sites for solar panels, including the landfill cap; a roof mount system on the Highway Department building, the site of the old highway department barn and Wades Beach.
The beach would likely be a controversial placement, Councilman Paul Shepherd said. Councilwoman Chris Lewis liked the idea of using the landfill cap, but Mr. Card said that could be problematic due to its steep slope. But he also said there might be ways to make it work.
While there are a number of companies like American Capital Energy that handle all aspects of the project — from applications and permitting to engineering and funding — both Mr. Card and Councilman Peter Reich said they were impressed with ACE. Ms. Lewis said she liked that ACE has handled other Suffolk County projects in conjunction with LIPA.
The company predicts it could have a system up and running on the Island within one year of getting approval to participate in the LIPA FIT program.
If the town eventually agrees to a project, it would would be for a tenure of 20 years, at which time Shelter Island could either opt to continue or ask that ACE remove the panels and restore the site, Mr. Card said.
After word last week that the Taylor’s Island project had hit a snag with a contractor who couldn’t post a bond, Town Attorney Laury Dowd is awaiting a letter of credit promised by Strada Baxter Design Build, LLC of Amagansett that would enable work to get under way. Company representatives said last week they were too young a firm to have the necessary credit rating to secure a bond. But a letter of credit for 100 percent of the contract price would accomplish the same thing, Ms. Dowd said.
Board members said that this solution was acceptable to them since no taxpayer money is being used. The money is coming from the Taylor’s Island Foundation.