MCIA Offers Specifics on County Solar Projects — Freeholders Questions Sheriff’s Robo-Calls

The Morris County Improvement Authority held a lengthy public information and question-and-answer session last night in Morristown, providing a detailed analysis of its preliminary findings on the viability of various unbuilt solar sites in the county.

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Mennen Sports Arena Solar Panels

At the nearly four-hour session attended by some three-dozen residents and non-residents of the county, MCIA Counsel Matthew Jessup and Thomas Brys of Matrix New World Engineering, the county’s consultant on solar projects, focused on potential sites that could be built – if approved by the freeholders – with a specific and frank analysis of the fiscal viability of each of 15 potential sites.

Each unbuilt renewable energy site has been reviewed in terms of its long-term potential to generate revenue to help offset financial losses suffered in the county’s previous solar endeavor, and its potential to reduce energy costs for each local government entity (school district, municipal or county buildings, etc…) where solar panels would be installed.

“Contrary to what Sheriff Rochford was telling people on his robo-calls to county residents over the weekend, the goal of our current solar or renewable energy project review is to minimize future potential financial exposure for our taxpayers, to help reimburse them for past losses, and to ensure that any future steps we take are fiscally sound,’’ said Freeholder David Scapicchio.

MCIA Offers Specifics on County Solar Projects -- Freeholders Questions Sheriff's Robo-Calls
Dave Scapicchio
“I’m not sure what expertise Sheriff Rochford can offer on solar issues. The sheriff’s calls were odd – like his behavior in the past year – but he probably did us a favor to invite people to come out and be part of this discussion.’’ 
The sheriff, in his calls to some 10,000 residents on behalf of the New Jersey Taxpayers’ Association, urged county residents to attend Monday night’s meeting, saying: “They are (the freeholders) considering building more controversial solar projects even though the current projects are losing millions of your dollars.’’
Rochford did not attend Monday night’s solar session, at which he could have been informed of the specific reasons that the MCIA and freeholders are reviewing the potential financial benefits to county taxpayers of constructing some of the unbuilt sites.
MCIA Offers Specifics on County Solar Projects -- Freeholders Questions Sheriff's Robo-Calls
John Krickus

“While the solar program bonds were issued in 2010 and 2011 by a prior freeholder board, we have a fiduciary responsibility to Morris County taxpayers regardless of our prior misgivings,’’ said Freeholder John Krickus.

“Our primary focus now is damage control, minimizing the losses the county will incur. The county faces potential additional losses depending on the market value of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs),” he said.

The MCIA, in concert with a Morris County Freeholder’s “Build-No Build Committee,’’ were asked by the freeholders to make recommendations regarding the financial and operational aspects of the unbuilt renewable energy sites. Based on this information, the freeholders will decide in the near future whether to move ahead with any of the unbuilt projects.
In its presentation on Monday, the MCIA also discussed design, engineering, construction and future maintenance issues related to the unbuilt sites from the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program Series 2011.      
In 2011, the MCIA sold $33.1 million in county-guaranteed bonds to help finance the MCIA’s renewable energy program to install solar panels at 30 municipal and school sites in Morris County to generate power and reduce energy costs for the participants. Of those projects, 17 have been fully built and are up and running.

However, due to a variety of factors – including a legal battle between renewable energy program’s developer and its contractor — the county has incurred and faces future financial losses, and renewable energy projects at 13 of
the originally scheduled sites have not yet been constructed.


The county, with the assistance of the MCIA, is now undertaking a process to determine the viability of moving ahead with the unbuilt sites, with a primary emphasis on construction and financial viability. These sites consist of facilities owned by Morris County, municipalities and boards of education located within Morris County.

The freeholders will get a final report from the MCIA and the board’s “Build-No Build Committee’’ in the near future, and will make a decision on those sites later this fall.
To get a first-hand look at the recent renewable energy analysis visit: http://www.morriscountynj.gov/improvement/pdfs/Solar2.pdf
To provide comments on the build-no build methodology, please fill out a solar feedback form that can be found on the county website at http://www.co.morris.nj.us/

Special Meeting Update

The Morris County Improvement Authority will hold a public session tonight (Monday, Oct. 5) at 6 p.m. at the County Administration Building in Morristown to discuss preliminary findings on the viability of construction of various unbuilt solar sites from the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program Series 2011 solar projects. Read the agenda.

The MCIA will first meet in an executive session from 6:00-6:30 p.m. that will be closed to the public. The Authority will then reconvene in open session for a public review of the solar project.

The MCIA, in concert with a Morris County Freeholder’s “Build-No Build Committee,’’ were asked by the freeholders to make recommendations regarding the financial and operational aspects of the unbuilt renewable energy sites.

The sites that are being reviewed consist of those originally scheduled for implementation of solar energy projects as part of the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program Series 2011, plus alternate sites.

Morris County Improvement Authority To Hold Special Public Session on Status of Solar Projects

The Morris County Improvement Authority will hold a public session on Monday, Oct. 5, at 6:30 p.m. in Morristown to discuss preliminary findings on the viability of construction of various unbuilt solar sites from the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program Series 2011 solar projects.
Morris County Improvement Authority To Hold Special Public Session on Status of Solar Projects
The MCIA, in concert with a Morris County Freeholder’s “Build-No Build Committee,’’ were asked by the freeholders to make recommendations regarding the financial and operational aspects of the unbuilt renewable energy sites.
The sites that are being reviewed consist of those originally scheduled for implementation of solar energy projects as part of the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program Series 2011, plus alternate sites.
In 2011, the MCIA sold $33.1 million in county-guaranteed bonds to help finance the MCIA’s renewable energy program to install solar panels at 30 municipal and school sites in Morris County to generate power and reduce energy costs for the participants. Of those projects, 17 have been fully built and are up and running.
However, due to a variety of factors – including a legal battle between renewable energy program’s developer and contractor — the county has run into a financial deficits, and renewable energy projects at 13 of the originally scheduled sites have not yet been constructed.
The county, with the assistance of the MCIA, is now undertaking a process to determine the viability of moving ahead with the unbuilt sites, with a primary emphasis on construction and financial viability. These sites consist of facilities owned by Morris County, municipalities and boards of education located within Morris County.
Morris County Improvement Authority To Hold Special Public Session on Status of Solar Projects
Kathy DeFillippo

The special public session on Oct. 5 will give county residents a chance to get a first-hand understanding of the process we are now employing, and to get all of their questions answered,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.

“It’s an effort for transparency that is essential when it comes to expenditures of county tax dollars, especially on such a complicated project,’’ she added.
Morris County Improvement Authority To Hold Special Public Session on Status of Solar Projects
John Krickus
“While the solar program bonds were issued in 2010 and 2011 by a prior freeholder board, we have a fiduciary responsibility to Morris County taxpayers regardless of our prior misgivings,’’ said Freeholder John Krickus. “Our primary focus now is damage control, minimizing the losses the county will incur. The county faces potential additional losses depending on the market value of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs),” he said.

The Committee’s efforts regarding the unbuilt sites, to be detailed on Oct. 5, included:

  • Site visits and inspection of roof, ground and other engineering factors;
  • Analysis to determine anticipated photovoltaic production at each site;
  • Financial modeling, including a preliminary ranking of sites, based on multiple factors, including installation costs, efficiency in installation, existing site conditions, energy productivity and break-even Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) values.
  • Receipt of preliminary design and installation cost proposals for each site from engineering, procurement and construction contractors.
The Committee’s preliminary sites’ revenue analysis, to be discussed on Oct. 5, will detail the following information on each location:
  • PPA Revenue – The amount paid by each local entity for the potential supply of solar energy, in lieu of a similar payment to the traditional grid-energy supplier.
  • SREC Revenue – The amount of revenue anticipated to be generated at each Unbuilt Site from the generation and sale of SRECs.
  • Operating Costs – Includes industry-standard operation and maintenance expenses, as well as equipment upgrades in years 5, 10 and 15.
  • Debt Service – The aggregate amount of principal plus interest to be incurred to finance implementation of the renewable energy project at each site.
  • Project Cash Flow – An amount equal to the excess of the aggregate of PPA revenue plus SREC revenue, less operating costs and debt service.
  • Local Unit Energy Savings – The aggregate amount of savings realized at each site as a result of participation in the program.
  • Breakeven SREC – The price of SRECs needed to produce sufficient SREC Revenue, along with PPA Revenue, to result in a project cash flow of zero dollars.
The preliminary revenue analysis was presented to the freeholders and public at the Board of Freeholders’ meeting on Sept. 21.
On Oct.5, a subsequent public workshop, to be held in the Morris County Administration Building in Morristown, the MCIA and the Freeholders’ Build-No Build Committee will again present that analysis, plus any additional findings, and respond to questions from members of the public.
For more information and to get an initial look at the recent analysis, prior to the Oct. 5 meeting, please visit: http://www.morriscountynj.gov/improvement/pdfs/Solar2.pdf