Saratoga County

Solar panel plan at old Clifton Park landfill OK’d

A solar energy company is renewing a proposal to put solar panels on the town’s capped landfill, whi

A solar energy company is renewing a proposal to put solar panels on the town’s capped landfill, which would give the town some income for a piece of land that can’t really be used for anything else.

But HelioSage Energy wants to wait until the state Legislature passes legislation that would require power companies to buy energy from alternative sources such as a large, privately owned solar field. Otherwise, the company won’t have a guaranteed source of income that would make the project worth doing, town officials said.

Officials are willing to wait a couple of years, and the Town Board may on Monday vote on a lease agreement that gives HelioSage the option to lease the 25-acre property at 217 Vischer Ferry Road if the legislation is passed.

The town would earn rent on the property without having to pay anything to install or maintain the solar panels.

“We’re not putting any money at risk in this venture,” said Town Supervisor Phil Barrett. “It’s hard not to move forward under these circumstances.”

The town would not use the energy generated, because the landfill isn’t close enough to any town buildings to make it worthwhile, he said.

There’s no other use proposed for the former landfill, which can’t be developed for a building or a park.

“The beauty of the landfill is you have a huge open space,” said Town Attorney Tom McCarthy. “There’s no other alternative uses for it.

“They’re not competing with a school that wants to build soccer fields or a developer that wants to build a housing complex.”

The town and the company would negotiate a price for the rent only after the legislation passes.

“What I didn’t want to do is lock the land into a long-term agreement” right now, Barrett said. He wants the town to be able to study the generation of revenue before coming up with a final rent figure.

In a presentation the company gave Tuesday, it used $1,000 per acre as the annual rent payment to the town, which would total $25,000 a year.

HelioSage estimates a solar field of 7,158 ground-mounted panels would generate 2.5 million kilowatt-hours a year.

The company has installed projects in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.

“They’re a reputable company that has executed similar projects in other states,” Barrett said.

HelioSage is the second company that has approached Clifton Park with a proposal to put solar panels at the landfill.

In January 2011, the town signed a letter of intent to work with another company, Energenics Systems Inc. of Bohemia.

But that company also needed to wait for the legislation, and the agreement with the town has since fallen through.

Energenics proposed using thin film solar panels that are flexible and lightweight. HelioSage proposes the traditional pole-mounted solar panels that tilt toward the south to capture the sun’s strongest rays.

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