Salisbury Eyes Alternative Energy Partnerships

SALISBURY — Clean and renewable energy got the spotlight this week as the Salisbury City Council heard pitches from both wind and solar providers for future partnerships.

The council plans to work with city administration to develop some defined goals and needs that can be translated into a Request for Proposals (RFP) that will be made available to energy providers.

First to share with the council was Pioneer Green Energy, an organization that specializes in wind projects. It’s currently working on The Great Bay Wind Energy Center in Somerset County, a “proposed 150-megawatt wind farm that will utilize the naturally occurring and inexhaustible coastal winds.”

“The first lease was signed in 2010 and the project includes 200 participating landowners,” according to Pioneer’s website. “The facility will generate enough clean power for delivery to the electricity grid to power over 45,000 homes without burdening local water supplies.”

Bob Harris, lead developer for the wind center, sees opportunity for Salisbury to become a partner with that effort in a number of ways.

“There’s a huge potential here as well as a demand for power,” he said.

Jobs and education are just two of the avenues that Harris told the council he would like to explore.

In addition to wind, Brent Eskay from Solar City also spoke to the council about his company’s desire to work hand-in-hand with Salisbury in developing a solar program. There are a number of sites around the city that could hold solar panel installations and Eskay has already noticed at least one that he thinks could be perfect.

Like Pioneer, Solar City is interested in pursuing long-term partnerships with Salisbury for supplying power.

“The current price of power that we’re offering the city right now is 4.5 cents flat with no escalation. In other words it never will increase. That 4.5 cents you’re paying today will be the same price in 20 years. That’s pretty amazing I think,” said Eskay.

Solar City will guarantee a certain amount of kilowatt hours at that price every year and will pay back on any number of hours that aren’t generated.

Wicomico County is already looking into renewable energy, said Council President Jake Day, and Salisbury should get on the train before it leaves the station.

“I know that the county has already begun their process for considering locking in their rates through acquisition or purchase of renewable energy,” he told the council.

Day recommended working with Salisbury’s Internal Services to make sure the city is getting the best prices. Mayor Jim Ireton promised that once an RFP is drafted all suppliers will have a shot at wooing the city.

“The RFP will go out and all of the suppliers of solar or wind power will have the opportunity to respond to the RFP,” he said.