The Youngs Avenue landfill may soon be the home of a new solar energy facility.
The Riverhead Town Board authorized a lease agreement last week with CVE (Changing Visions of Energy) North America, a part of the French solar conglomerate CVE Group, to develop a solar energy facility at the site.
The term of the contract is for 25 years after the facility is granted occupancy, or two years after construction has begun. The contract includes the option to extend the contract for five years twice.
Riverhead Town has in the past pursued the idea of a solar facility at the landfill, which was shut down in 1993 pursuant to state law and subsequently capped by the town to help prevent groundwater contamination. The town issued requests for proposals for a solar project there in 2012 and in 2019, but nothing came of those efforts.
According to the terms of the contract, the developer is participating in PSEG Long Island’s Community Solar program, which allows a land or building owner to receive credit on their electric bill in exchange for allowing a private developer to build solar panels on their property.
The developer believes they have a “very good opportunity” to get approval for a four or five megawatt facility at the Youngs Avenue site, which is near the maximum PSEG Long Island will afford for the program, Deputy Town Attorney Annemarie Prudenti said.
“So it’s an ability not only to make a lease payment here, but also restore a portion of the property back on the tax rolls, which benefits the school and town,” Prudenti said. “And then, we are gonna get a credit for our town electric bills.”
CVE North America did not immediately return a call requesting comment.
The Town Board previously approved contracts with Borrego Solar in 2012 and EmPower Solar in 2019 to develop on the Youngs Avenue landfill. Neither developer was selected by PSEG Long Island for a power purchase agreement, according to Prudenti and PSEG Long Island’s website.
CVE will pay the town to use its land based on what phase the project is in, according to the lease agreement.
In the “development term,” during which the project is gathering approvals and permits, the town will be paid a base rent of $500 on the 60th day after the start of the development term; $500 on the one-year anniversary of the contract; $500 on the second-year anniversary of the contract; and $500 on the third-year anniversary of the contract. The development term will expire when construction starts and will be no longer than four years, according to the lease.
During the “construction period,” the developer will pay the town $3,000 per year. The construction period will be for no more than two years or when the development receives its Certificate of Occupancy.
When the construction period ends, the “operating term” will begin and the town will receive a one-time payment of $10,500 per megawatt. Rent for the developer will be $22,000 per megawatt per year for the first 15 years, with the price increasing $20,000 in the years following. The rent will also increase by 2% annually.
Other rent will be paid on the property to the town’s special districts and through a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement along with the Riverhead Central School District, according to the lease agreement. No PILOT agreement was attached to the resolution.
CVE will also be required to submit statements with the financial details of the solar facility, balance sheet and statements of income and expense, each fiscal year.
A contract with CVE was awarded by the Town Board on Nov. 1, 2022 after the company was one of three developers to submit a proposal to the town. In April 2022, before a request for proposals was issued, a CVE representative pitched the Town Board on the solar project at the request of Council Member Bob Kern.
The lease agreement is subject to a permissive referendum, also known as a referendum by petition, where opponents of the lease could force a vote to override the board’s action at an upcoming election.
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