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Secaucus bonds $1.4 million for solar panels at rec center

The panels will go on the roof and possibly over the parking area

The Secaucus Town Council met in person on Sept. 14.

The Secaucus Town Council has adopted an ordinance bonding approximately $1.4 million for the purchase of solar panels to be installed at the Recreation Center at 1200 Koelle Boulevard. The council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance at its Sept. 14 meeting.

According to Town Administrator Gary Jeffas, the solar panel project is part of a cost-saving clean energy initiative known as the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP). The ESIP is administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to allow for the improvement and retrofitting of public facilities by local governments and other entities by using the future value of energy savings to finance the upfront investment.

“It’s a dollar for dollar,” Mayor Michael Gonnelli said at the council meeting. “So whatever we are going to spend, we are going to get back in savings.”

“At least that or more,” Jeffas added.

Pre-qualified energy services companies provide the upfront financing, and are paid back from the savings that accrue to the public entity through reduced energy bills.

Cost savings analysis

“It’s an energy savings investment program,” Jeffas told the Hudson Reporter after the meeting. “So what we first had to do was appoint a company to analyze and make recommendations on the projects. One of the projects they recommended was the solar panels.”

As part of the analysis, it had to be guaranteed by the company, Schneider Electric, that the savings from the project will exceed the debt payment over 15 years.

“Then a second company we hire verifies all of their data and information,” Jeffas said.

The town is currently waiting for the second analysis to be completed. After the third party certifies that the program will save money, the BPU then reviews the program and gives it final approval if it meets the requirements.

“Everybody makes sure that the savings outweigh the costs,” Jeffas said. “So it should be zero cost to the town over the 20 year financing based on the savings from the energy.”

On the roof

The solar panels will be installed on the roof of the recreation center. But the town is debating putting additional solar panels over the parking lot.

“That is still being analyzed,” Jeffas said. “They have to analyze the parking area to make sure if they put it there, that all the subsurface drainage and everything won’t be disrupted.”

The analysis is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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