“I was only just here in October when our one-year lease option agreement was signed,” said Meima. “But we’ve been able to move very quickly through check-off items, and found (the landfill) would be a very good place for solar. I see no reason to delay the process.”
Meima said in order for his team to move forward with their work, they would need the board to move into lease negotiations.
“The work we’ve done has indicated that we’d like to move ahead,” said Meima. “The next steps get more complicated and expensive. They move beyond this feasibility overview and into actual design and permitting and so forth. To spend the tens of thousands to do this next stage we really would like a lease.”
Meima said the project could be funded one of two ways, with the first being a third-party investor plus debt along with a major offtaker. “We’ve done a couple of very large projects with Mount Snow where Mount Snow buys the net metering credits at a discount,” said Meima. “One is in Pownal and one is in Rockingham.”
The other path to financing, said Meima, is community solar, wherein one-third of the array is sold to a municipal or ski area offtaker and the other two-thirds of the array is sold off in blocks of wattage to homeowners and local businesses.
When the feasibility study was originally proposed, Meima touted a community buy-in option as a potential benefit of the project. But Tuesday, Meima backtracked a bit on the community aspect of the array, noting that it has not been as successful as he had anticipated in other communities.
“In Guilford, there initially seemed to be a lot of interest for community solar, and we did a six-month campaign to recruit buyers there,” said Meima. “There was less of a response than we expected. I don’t want to raise expectations too high. Six months ago I was a lot more optimistic about (community buy-in in) Guilford than I am now.”
Nevertheless, Meima said there would be a 90-day community buy-in period for the project. Though he was unable to give a specific date, Meima said he would expect to open the public option period upon submitting the certificate of public good application for the project, which he anticipates could happen in the summer.
Meima said Green Lantern is working to learn more about how to make community solar projects work.
“I’ll be totally honest, we’ve specialized statewide in the first model I talked about,” said Meima, referring back to the financier and big offtaker model. “There are other companies that have been more active in the community solar space, including Soveren Solar. The model we chose to adopt for community solar is based on Soveren Solar’s experience. We’re learning and we’re working with the folks that used to run the back office and financial part of Soveren Solar.”