Monday, April 25, 2011

Solar farm moves forward

Despite vocal opposition from immediate neighbors, the Select Board tonight voted unanimously to recommend article #24 to Amherst Town Meeting, a motion that will allow the Town Manager (who is appointed by the Select Board) to enter into a long-term contract with BlueWave Capital for low cost electricity generated by a sea of solar panels placed on the old landfill.

ARTICLE 24. Authorize term of lease for Old Landfill (Planning Board)
To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Town Manager to lease all or any portion of the Old Landfill across Belchertown Road from the existing Transfer Station from time to time by one or more leases for such term of years up to 30 years and for such consideration as the Town Manager shall determine, for the purpose of installing and operating thereon a solar array for electric power generation and distribution, and to authorize the Town Manager to grant such easements in, on, under and across over said land for utility and access purposes, as reasonably necessary to install and operate such a solar array, and further to authorize the Town Manager to enter into a power purchase agreement with any lessee of such property to purchase all or a portion of the electricity production of the solar array and to enter into an agreement with the local utility to participate in the Net Metering program pursuant to the Acts of 2008, c. 169, §78, the so-called Green Communities Act, as may be amended.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good move.... The TwnMgr could garner some goodwill
by negotiating a reasonable buffer zone between the project and neighbors, as well as an escrow fund to
cover continuing remediation costs at the old landfill.

-YF

Tom Porter said...

An interesting element of Article 24 is the Town Manager being authorized "to enter into an agreement with the local utility to participate in the Net Metering program..."

The door is closing on the Net-Metering subsidy:

According to the WMECO site, WMECO is obligated to buy 8.45Mw of Net-Metered power. They currently buy 3.31Mw and have received applications for another 6.98Mw. Amherst has not applied yet. If the town does not qualify for Net Metering, a large part of the financial benefit will disappear.

At this point, given that the Net Metering program appears to be oversubscribed, and Amherst is not yet even in the running to be considered, these future financial benefits could be thought of as "hoped for" or "imaginary."

From WMECO's site
"Service under the tariff will be closed to new applicants once the aggregate capacity of all Class 1, 2, and 3 facilities has reached one percent of WMECO's highest historical peak load. The highest historical peak load at WMECO is 845Mw and was recorded August 2, 2006. One percent of the highest historical peak load is 8.45Mw. As of April 1, 2011, the aggregate capacity of all installed Class 1, 2, and 3 facilities is 3.31Mw. Additionally, the aggregate capacity of Class 1, 2, and 3 facilities pending interconnection is 6.98Mw."

http://bit.ly/NetMetering

Anonymous said...

The calm before the Town Meeting storm

Anonymous said...

So how many more stories will I read about in this blog BEFORE I read them in the Gazette?

LarryK4 said...

Actually I'm working on one right now.

Dale said...

Good job Larry keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I want to know how the town is going to guarantee that its pollution doesn't leak on to people's property? It's not the home owners job to prevent this, it's the town's responsibility to keep its citizens safe. If the landfill is unlined they should dig it up and line it. Especially, now that people are playing true confessions on what they dumped in there. it may be expensive but it's only going to cost a lot more when they let it become the next Love Canal.

Anonymous said...

So much for community participation in the decision process.

Anonymous said...

I am just curious as to what the experience this solar company has in protecting ground water at an unlined landfill? They are a solar panel company. Seems like a big gamble that the town is taking and it's one where this company will just point to the unlined landfill and claim it's not their fault when the pollution spreads to nearby neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

The problem with getting the community involved in Amherst is everyone wants to organize a commitee to cover all of their agendas. It takes 20 years to decide if jello sticks to trees in Amherst. If we could garnish a group that could make decisions in a reasonable amount of time I'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

And the alternative is to try put project after project in neighborhoods without their input -- and meet resistence that goes on for years. It's Planning 101 to meet with neighbors ahead of time and talk out issues. Instead the town meets with their lawyers.

Anonymous said...

The problem is in Amherst the NIMBY's will just shut down anything that looks like growth in this town. Their idea of planning 101 is to leave everything exactly as it is for ever and ever!

Anonymous said...

One's happiness in Amherst is inversely proportional to the degree to which one pays attention to and cares about Amherst politics.

Anonymous said...

Not really, it's just that the planning dept creates its own enemies. No one trusts them for good reasons. No wonder they get no support. They should go to planning 101 and see how it works in the new century. Why the community process in the gateway and no process in the landfill?

Anonymous said...

If planning and the town meet with developers how can they not meet with neighborhoods? How fair does that look? Do they know better than residents what is good for them? Who do they work for? Who pays the taxes?

Anonymous said...

The town government is hired to work on behalf of its citizens. Unfortunately, ours seems to think the citizens are a nuisance to be managed rather than the clients to be served.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who complains that Amherst town government is unresponsive to every last complaint of every citizen needs to have his or her head examined.

This isn't democracy denied; it's democracy run amuck.

Anonymous said...

So the town thinks all the neighborhoods will oppose projects, cuts them out of the planning and deal and finds angry neighbors who feel cut out of the deal and then oppose their projects, which supports their original belief.

Tom Porter said...

"... and to authorize the Town Manager to grant such easements in, on, under and across over said land for utility and access purposes, as reasonably necessary to install and operate such a solar array, ..."

"UNDER?"