Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative officials unveiled an $85 million solar power project Thursday that will use capped landfills and other town-owned land in seven Cape and Vineyard towns.

The project, which will be financed by private investors, will not incur any municipal costs, but it is expected to save towns $1.42 million in energy costs in the first year. It is an effort that has been in the works for more than a year and was hailed yesterday as an example to the rest of the state and the country on creative green projects.

“This is a significant, game-changing model,” Mark Sylvia, commissioner of the state Department of Energy Resources, told state officials, state legislators and town and county officials at a press conference in the Barnstable Superior Courthouse.

The majority of the seven projects would be on capped landfills that have few, if any, other uses, and would account for 26 percent of the energy needs of the seven participating communities, Sylvia said. In exchange for financing the project, investors receive money from federal solar renewable energy credits, as well as tax credits. The towns get discounted electricity at a steady price for 20 years and money back from the sale of the electricity they generate to NStar.

“It’s great. We’re facing an override this year and had it been installed three years ago, we might not need an override,” said Eastham Selectman Martin McDonald.

Eastham could see more than $170,000 in savings in the first year, but the project must first survive a citizen petition at the May town meeting seeking to bar it from a town-owned property.

The contract for installing the 18.2 megawatts of solar power was awarded to American Capital Energy of North Chelmsford, chosen from eight vendors who responded to a request for proposals sent out in October. ACE has installed more than 35 large-scale solar projects since it was founded in 2005, according to its press release.

source: istockanalyst