Solar farms are typically associated with California or the Southwest − areas with large expanses of sun drenched desert. Milford may seem like an unlikely match for a solar farm, but since the end of December, Milford has been home to the largest solar farm in the state.
Local and state officials gathered at the site in Milford to dedicate the 80-acre farm.
This project has been in the works since 2010 when the land, which had been slated for residential development in 2006, was taken over by investors who proposed that it be used for a solar farm.
“I think that this is a much better use of the property,” said Milford City Manager Richard Carmean.
The project has changed hands since it was initiated with PSEG Solar Source taking over the project in 2012.
“This project has been in the works a long time but PSEG stepped in last year as the equity investor. We bring the cash,” said Diana Drysdale, president of PSEG Solar Source.
Once the project had the financial backing that it needed it really took off, said Drysdale. The solar farm was on the grid in roughly three months. It started pumping out power at the end of December.
“This will allow our economy to compete for years,” said Collin O’Mara, secretary of the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “We’ve already complied with energy requirements, [and now] we will be able to attract businesses and retain jobs better than states who haven’t switched.”
According to Randy Mehrberg, president of PSEG holdings, Milford has given the company a warm welcome.
“The welcome we’ve received has been overwhelming,” he said. “As far as the business climate, it’s been wonderful.”
Gov. Jack Markell shared a sense of pride in Milford and spoke about the importance of the farm.
“There are great things going on in Milford,” said Markell. “I’m not surprised that PSEG found great partners here in Milford. This is something we’re really proud of. This will generate energy for a lot more than just the immediate needs,”
The farm can produce 12,000 kilowatts of electricity at its peak output, which is more than enough power to supply every house in Milford, Drysdale said.
Carmean added that the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation has agreed to buy all of the power produced by the site’s 61,896 panels for the next 20 years. The power will then be supplied to users across the state, Milford being one of them.
Page 2 of 2 - “This project will put solar energy on our grid with hardly any maintenance at all,” Carmean said.
According to Patrick McCullar, president of the DMEC, the company has been able to remove between 13 and 15 megawatts of emissions by switching to more sustainable energy sources through efforts such as this. The company has also reduced its coal consumption from 55 percent to 15 percent.
The switch to greener energy has benefited the consumer as well as the environment, McCullar claimed. DMEC’s electrical rates have also been reduced by 10 percent over the past several years, and McCullar expects those rates will continue to drop.
Aside from the solar field, Juwi Solar Inc. will also be donating solar panels for a smaller field that will be owned by the city. The city of Milford will use the field to power its municipal buildings. Power for these buildings is usually funded through electric revenue, but because the city is saving money, they will pass that savings onto residents, Carmean said.
The solar farm is expected to have a life span of at least 30 years with relatively, though Drysdale cited examples of solar farms in California that have been up and running for 35 years and are still going strong.
“It sounds really progressive,” said Milford resident Nicholas Stayton. “If it’s a way for them to cut costs while being green, bring on the solar panels.”