From the Rutland Herald

December 1, 2015

By Susan Smallheer

LUDLOW — The developer of a proposed 20-megawatt solar facility in Ludlow said Monday the project would deliver lower-cost low-emission solar power to the entire state, as well as more local economic benefits in jobs and taxes.

Adam Cohen, of Ranger Solar, said a study by Synapse Energy Economics Inc. would be the economic bedrock for Ranger Solar’s application to the Public Service Board next month for a state permit to build the solar facility in Ludlow. Ranger Solar is calling its facility the Coolidge Solar Project, named in part for the Coolidge electric substation in Cavendish, owned by Vermont Electric Co.

Cohen said recent comments by Gov. Peter Shumlin criticizing the size of Ranger Solar’s projects were unfortunate. He said he was “disappointed” by the lack of support.

“He’s picking winners and losers before we’ve even begun the process,” Cohen said.

He added that Shumlin’s criticism was not in line with his administration’s stated support of green energy and the strong green-energy job factors in the state.

“His comments are not in line with that,” he said. “Obviously, the state needs the power,” he said, noting recent state reports said there would be a 200 to 300-megawatt shortfall in coming years.

Cohen, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., said his group was “committed to working with the communities. Ludlow wants to work with us.”

He said the project would create about four full-time permanent jobs and about 80 jobs during construction. It would pay $3 million in property taxes throughout the 20-year life of the project.

But, he said, the project would generate electricity at lower rates than other, smaller projects — $78.18 per megawatt hour compared to $121 per megawatt hour.

Cohen said his firm was focusing now on the Ludlow-based project, rather than other projects the company has proposed in other towns in the state.

Ludlow Town Manager Frank Heald said the Select Board would discuss the project at its next meeting on Dec. 7. Heald said Ranger Solar made proposals last month dealing with payment-in-lieu of taxes, as well as payments to the town’s enterprise fund. That fund was set up with impact fees for Okemo Mountain Ski Area for its Jackson Gore development.

“The Select Board listened very carefully to the presentation the other night,” Heald said. “It will be on the docket next week.”

Heald said the project would mean a $150,000 annual tax payment to the town by Ranger Solar.

Cohen said while Ranger Solar had originally hoped to submit its Section 248 application to the PSB by the end of November, he said it would be made within a couple of weeks.

He defended the size of his project — about 85,000 solar panels would cover about 90 acres on either side of Barker Road in Ludlow — as having less impact that several, small solar projects scattered all over different towns.

“Our project has tremendous benefits, and it’s a well-sited solar project,” he said, noting it was to be sited close to electric transmission infrastructure, and that no upgrades were needed to the electrical infrastructure. “And we avoid all impacts to wetlands and natural resources.” he said.

Cohen said his project had an agreement with Vermont Electric Power Producers but did not have a signed contract with Green Mountain Power.

GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said the company had not seen the Synapse economic analysis.

“We have a fairly balanced long-term portfolio and don’t see a fit for these projects,” she said.