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Now Admitted: Broome County Solar Farm Deal Was A Very Bad One Indeed

Vic FurmanVictor Furman
Upstate New York Landowner Shale Gas Activist

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Vic Furman scores a big victory by simply asking questions about the Broome County Solar Farm that was supposed to save taxpayer so much money but hasn’t.

Back in February, I wrote a post here about a Broome County solar farm deal with SolarCity that was supposed to create big savings for taxpayers but has long set idle after completion. I raised a bunch of questions and then followed up with a Freedom of Information request to the county for all the documents related to the project.

Now, as a result of those inquiries, the county has been forced to admit the deal everyone bragged about at the outset was a loser and the realization of that is what caused the county to insist on a better deal before it put the project online. However, the word from the county is that the new deal will generate even less savings than the old and that one was clearly a loser.

Broome County Solar Farm

Broome County Solar Farm

The $4 million dollar deal Broome County entered into with SolarCity was supposed to save more than $250,000 per year and e were all told the project would be completed and running a year ago. WBNG reported the delay earlier this year but County Executive Jason Garnar said it is would go on-line “very soon,” suggesting that meant another “month or two.” He also pointed out the county might not actually see any net savings as a result of the solar farm. Now, we’re learning this, courtesy of WBNG (emphasis added):

Construction on the project was completed last summer. But NYSEG’s initial plan to pay for power from the site would have wound up costing the county money.

Public works commissioner Leslie Boulton advised county lawmakers that the tactic was being used by NYSEG for several projects across the state.

When the solar project was announced by then-county executive Debra Preston in 2016, it was suggested it could save taxpayers more than $250,000 a year. It was expected to become operational last spring.

Boulton said state agencies eventually managed to resolve the rate issue with NYSEG so the county will gain some net savings from the solar farm.

NYSEG has not commented on why its initial rate proposal would have resulted in the county losing money by connecting the solar array to the grid.

Broome County executive Jason Garnar has said he expects the solar farm finally could be put into operation by the end of this month.

Garnar doesn’t know how much money the county ultimately might save with the solar operation but he has suggested the amount is going to be less than what had been promised.

Back in February, I asked why it took my call into a local radio talk host to prompt the host of the show to question the County Executive Jason Garner? I also, myself, later questioned Garner, during a segment called “Ask the County Executive” and he seemed to know little or nothing about the issue. Now, the truth has spilled out; the project made no economic sense even at an inflated $250,000 per year of savings and now we’re going to save even less.

When we look at how the project evolved, in fact, it’s clear there was never $250,000 per year of savings to be had in real money and the terms were constantly changing. The original deal, made in December, 2014, set the electricity rates as follows:

broome county solar farm

A year later, in December, 2015, a series of e-mails shows the project was undergoing relocation, redesign and repackaging. The email discussion concluded with a surprise proposal for a brand new 2% price escalator and this:

broome county solar farm

As this shows, the original deal would have generated $4,708,339 of savings over 20 years for a public investment of $4 million upfront. That was a loser deal for sure, as future money is worth a whole lot less than current. The proposal was to somehow raise the price over time, yet deliver more savings (try to figure that one out), although still far less than needed to justify the $4 million in upfront money. A new deal was signed in December, 2015, and the rates were as follows:

broome county solar farmThe chart shows the rates went down minimally for the first three years and way up over the next 17 years. Almost another year later, in November, 2016, the deal changed again to this, with the prices now raised to more than the original $0.07/kWh for the entire 20 years and much higher than ever:

broome county solar farmWhat’s happened since? It’s still not clear but it looks, from what’s being reported, that the rate is now up to $0.125/kWh for the solar gathered power, but the corporate rate the county already receives from NYSEG is $0.075, so where are the savings? The farm will actually cost Broome County taxpayers to operate and it will be online, we’re told, by the end of the month, locking in extra costs for 20 years. Any “savings” will, at best, be theoretical and long in the future, which means they’re no savings at all.

Frankly, I’m proud of helping to uncover this total waste of taxpayer money. The deal was proposed by his predecessor, Debbie Preston, but Jason Garner was a county legislator at the time and voted for this debacle. It is a scam, a waste of taxpayer money justified by phony benefits designed to appeal to green voters at the expense of other taxpayers. And, for all the solar fans out there, the reality is this; 100 acres of mature forest were clear cut to make way for these highly toxic solar panels that I guarantee won’t be saving a dime in 5 years.

Some $4 million dollars of our county and state and Federal taxpayer money was wasted for this feel good energy failure, while our Governor stands in the way of a truly economic fuel that could help revitalize our area to boot – natural gas.

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10 thoughts on “Now Admitted: Broome County Solar Farm Deal Was A Very Bad One Indeed

  1. Victor, thanks for following up on this. It is even more of a boondoggle than expected. I’m sure the green energy people are pleased, nonetheless. It would be good to emphasis to the public and taxpayers the loss of 100 acres of mature forest area and that effect upon the environment and no savings for the taxpayers, just profit for unscrupulous business people running these scams.

  2. Solar is an INTERMITTENT supplement to nuclear and fossil fuel generated power. This “farm” is not a “farm”, but an industrial power installation, and an intermittent one at that as previously described. Vic’s article got me to thinking about the following: are solar “farms” specifically called out as being ok to build in a town’s comprehensive plan? Furthermore, most if not all of these, will be built in rural areas that are zoned agricultural and not industrial. Are these abominations being legally built and if not, why not? After all, “home rule” was used to kill fracking and must be also applicable to “renewable energy” as well. Any landowner should be very wary about allowing these things on their land and be sure they have a good attorney and insist that the installer and operator of the “farm” has a removal bond in place when they finally go belly up. Wind and solar are both subject to the whims of nature and as such will never replace nuclear or fossil fuels. Their main attribute is that they whipsaw the grid like crazy due to their intermittency which is caused as clouds obscure the sun and the wind stops or varies. I know a lot about solar as I have a 5,000 watt whole house array on my roof and have a bachelor’s degree in electrical technology from Rochester Institute of Technology. Had NYSERDA not paid $23,000 of taxpayer money for my whole house array and I was not tied to NYSEG’s rock solid 24 / 7 grid, I WOULD HAVE NEVER HAD THIS THING PUT ON MY ROOF. The rate payers of NY and elsewhere are being had by this “renewable” energy boondoggle and our politicians are being conned likewise. This madness should stop but won’t because the media has bought into this charade for reasons yet to be revealed.

    • Solar is an INTERMITTENT == unreliable, very good for Gas as requires 30% efficient gas Single cycle fast backup. Cheaper and for ~~ SAME Emissions is 65% efficient gas Double cycle Gen Baseload

  3. Mr. Furman,
    I applaud your ongoing efforts in these matters and wish a great many more of your neighbors would assist in the efforts to expose these charlatans for the inept frauds that they are.

    It is so easy, so uncomplicated, to shed light on the preposterous claims being put forth by renewable advocates by merely using verifiable data … often contained in their own promotional literature.
    (Offshore wind capacities and costs being but one glaring example, especially compared to CCGT sourced electricity.

    Rest assured, Mr. Furman, your contributions in these affairs are both noted and appreciated by many, as is the case with Mr. Shepstone, Mr. Willis, and others.

    • Thank you for that tribute coffeeguyzz, words of encouragement like that are very important and satisfying. I consider Jim and Tom as part of a team that could use this type of support as we move to get the truth out. We can’t quit because we are American Patriots fighting enemies of Freedom, our constitution, and our free market in the name of one world order. Some may ask how i can write that but one only has to look into the funding of the anti and Cuomo, their unreachable goals of pricy renewables that will feed the rich more, make the poor poorer, and move us all into cities. To shorten this up, I don’t think I will ever see a gas dollar and I don’t care, but I care about my America and yours, I care about my grandchildren and theirs. If we don’t stand against the injustices of bad goverment and the socialistic agendas of the anti, then we might as well do away with locks on our doors, education, and motivation, because in a socialized state, their is no need for competitiveness or dreams.

  4. This article was sent to all 4 local news outlets but apparently it doesn’t meet with their definition of reportable news? Their was a time when corporate ripoffs were of interest to the taxpayers but this type of news is not as exciting as dead children, bomb trucks, or rainbow parades.

    • I am not sure if Tom blocked Hopforpeace and her many fake names but if you remember the University engagement I wrote about a month ago, she commented on it under everyone of her known names, Vera Scroggins too, and others. I think it’s a telling that those who scream so loud about the BENIFITS of solar and how cheap it is have nothing to say on this post because they have been exposed thru this post as the misinformed idiots they are.

  5. Good digging Vic! Real data is boring to most people, but as you show it contains the hard, cold facts.

    And if you look around for people with $4 mil in their pocket to invest, you won’t be finding any, but perhaps a trust-fund ‘sucker’, that wants to part with that much for an illiquid asset and earn a “paltry” $4.6 mil back over the next 20 years!

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