2017-06-09 / Front Page

District enters solar power purchase pact

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — According to a June 1 press release issued by Kennebunk Light and Power, the district’s board of trustees voted April 25 to enter into a 20-year power purchase agreement with DG Maine Solar LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, a “clean energy” company based on Juno Beach, Florida.

Under the agreement, DG Maine Solar will design, permit, construct, operate, own and maintain a solar array to be built adjacent to KLP’s West Kennebunk substation, on land owned by a third party.

“Initial estimates project the 2.9 megawatt array will produce an estimated first year output of 3.9 million kilowatt hours, or just under 4 percent of KLP’s annual kilowatt hour sales,” the press release says.

In response to questions from the Post, KLP Executive Director Todd Shea said he could not disclose how much KLP will pay for the electricity it plans to get from DG Maine.

“I can’t yet disclose the cost per kWh for the energy,” She said via email. “The contract prohibits my disclosing the costs associated with many of the aspects of the deal at this time. However, the PPA [power purchase agreement] rate for the solar energy is less than our customers pay currently when you consider that RNS and LNS are not added in to the equation.”

RNS stands for regional network service and LNS for local network service. Both are fees KLP must pay to get power to and from the grid. Those fees are not assessed in this case because the DG Maine solar power will only serve KLP customers, and not leave the local grid, Shea said.

The grid is now being designed and is expected to go live by the late fall of 2018, following state and local permitting, Shea said.

KLP does have any option to buy the DG Maine equipment outright, “should [trustees] decide to exercise it,” Shea said. However, Shea added also cannot reveal how much that development would cost ratepayers, other than to note the buy price “decreases annually in the contract.”

According to the press release, the decision to enter into solar power was made after KLP received “several unsolicited offers,” from companies looking to partner with the district.

“After reviewing different iterations of these unsolicited proposals it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the district’s ratepayers to send the project out for an official request for proposals,” the release reads. “In July 2016, KLP received seven notices of intent to bid on the project, and in September the board of trustees reviewed proposals from four different solar providers.”

DG Maine Solar was selected in October, and authorized Shea to begin work on the PPA approved in April.

“KLP retains the ability in the PPA to work with DG Maine Solar, LLC to expand the system size, with board approval, so long as the power generated does not exceed system consumption for the West Kennebunk substation,” the release says. “Additional arrays serving the Water Street substation have not been ruled out, and talks will be ongoing to determine if and when additional solar generating capacity will be developed within the district.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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