On Monday township council had a vigorous discussion of the proposed solar farm at the municipal complex. I want to thank Princeton Power (PP) who were forthcoming and honest with their answers to all technical questions. As I said at the meeting, PP answered more questions more thoroughly in the last week then the mayor has answered in the last three months. Whichever side of the issue you are omn, West Windsor deserves more transparency from the mayor.
Technically it’s clear that West Windsor doesn’t need the battery backup, since it’s inadequate. The battery will last for four hours at most and then we are dependent on the existing diesel generators. As PP admitted, the existing diesel generators are sufficient to provide emergency backup to all three buildings. There are no savings to WW by alleviating the need to buy a third generator.
The battery backup system helps PSE&G as an additional generator, and to Princeton Power to generate higher revenue from the project but is completely unnecessary for West Windsor.
While offering WW $29,000 dollars in revenue, PSE&G will charge us approximately $66,000 more to use the power generated by Solar panels. PSE&G pays WW at a rate of 4.5 cents/KWh for power generated while charging us at a rate of 10 cents/Kwh for power used.
The mayor has the proposal for the last three years but we have not explored any other option than a single proposal presented by two for profit companies PSE&G and Princeton Power.
Three years ago, when the mayor received the proposal the first discussion should have been what’s the best use of this land to benefit the entire township. If answer to the question was to use the land to generate income for the Township, then the next logical question would have been how best to go about it. Locally both WW-P school district and Lawrenceville school districts have used solar panels to save taxpayers significant amount of money. The land could also be used in various other ways to benefit the residents.
Instead the council was forced to agree to a single proposal from a single for profit corporation under the threat that unless you sign on the dotted line, the offer will go away. My personal experience is that anytime a sales person uses that tactic it’s time to walk away.
The project will take up 5 acres of prime real estate in the heart of town. I know of no other public entity that has given up prime real estate for such paltry returns. I hope my council colleagues and the mayor will explore all options before accepting this proposal.
Marathe is a member of West Windsor Council