Monday, July 16, 2012

Solar Energy Deal Moves Forward

Old landfill on Belchertown Road

After more than a year since Town Meeting overwhelmingly gave him the authority to do so, Town Manager John Musante brought before the Select Board a 31 page draft of the "Solar Power Services Agreement" he negotiated for electric energy created at a solar farm situated on the old landfill.

The 25 year deal calls for Amherst to lock in electric rates at 6.75 cents per kilowatt hour from the energy produced at up to a 4.25 megawatt operation, with total savings estimated at between $1.8 million and $6.8 million over the life of the contract.  Original value estimates first floated over a year ago were as high as $1 million annually for thirty years in electricity savings and property taxes paid.

The state is proposing solar farms be exempt from paying local property taxes thus the $15 million operation that would have paid $300,000 annually to Amherst will, like some of our academic and cultural institutions, pay nothing.

Musante also disclosed that he was in negotiations with another provider of solar energy from a site located outside of Amherst (Easthampton?). This secondary source could reduce the need for such a large solar array footprint proposed for the old landfill, which could somewhat appease concerned neighbors.

Town Manager John Musante, Stephanie O'Keeffe Select Board Chair 

The Select Board did not take a formal vote on the agreement, but Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe told the town manager he had their "full support."

The Solar Farm still has a number of significant hurdles to clear before any energy starts to flow:  A lawsuit brought by immediate neighbors of the proposed solar farm is still active, the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals must also support the project unanimously and the question of a "threatened species", the Grasshopper Sparrow, means a National Heritage Species permit must be secured.

But tonight's presentation certainly demonstrated there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Amherst Solar Power Agreement

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

LarryK said...

Yeah, we could use a couple of raging rivers.

Anonymous said...

What are the provisions for when this solar array doesn't produce as much energy as the hype suggests?

LarryK said...

That's why you need somebody like me to report on it.

But the solar farm was never pitched as a complete one stop shopping for ALL our electric needs.

We will, unfortunately, always need WMECO.

Anonymous said...

Light yes, but revenue? Seems to be declining by the minute. First it's $30 million over the life of the contract. Now it might be as low as $1.8 million over the life of the contract. Soon we'll be paying them.

LarryK said...

It's not like the old landfill is currently generating any revenue.

Anonymous said...

Are you avoiding the union treasurer embezzling story because your kid goes to Crocker Farm and you know the thief?

Very shallow waters you troll as a journalist if you don't pick up this story, about the depth of a wading pool. That qualifies you as a gossip, not a journalist.

Anonymous said...

What are the odds that during the 30 years of the contract that the landfill will need remediation and we will be stuck compensating the solar farm company? I say 100%. Should give the Gazette a nice cover story in 2027.

Anonymous said...

Don't let 'em tell you what stories to cover, Larry.

Anonymous said...

Solar companies are going out of business with disturbing frequency. All types of companies do, and their buildings are often abandoned with the public having to deal with them -- case in point the fish place out on 116 in Sunderland.

And if Congress changes the IRS code - which they could do next week - then these companies are mo longer profitable and go under.

So the company goes bankrupt and then there are these rusty hulks that someone has to remove, and guess who has to do it....

Anonymous said...

did town manager musante ever hold the many meetings with the amherst woods neighbors, like he promised?

how much $ will this generate per year?

why such a difference in the numbers from a year ago?

Anonymous said...

From $1million a year for 25 years to $272K a year or down to $72K a year for 25 years. Or maybe.....less? Talk about bait and switch or loosey goosey. Call it the Yes Board from now on, not the Select Board.