Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hampshire College Bright Idea

Land located north side West Bay Road between Eric Carle Museum and Rt 116

Last night Amherst Town Meeting gave interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek the authority to engage in discussions with potential owners of large solar arrays for a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes.

Interestingly enough that authority covers not just the deal on the town owned landfills but also extends to private landowners like Amherst and Hampshire Colleges, both in the top three for land ownership in town.

After a year of planning, Hampshire College is poised to start construction on a 2.5 megawatt array on the old Ives property off West Bay Road, directly opposite Atkins Country Market, who also installed a solar array three years ago to satisfy their energy needs.

The deal on the table with Hampshire College would generate $560,000 over the life of the 20 year project, or $28,000 per year.

Currently Hampshire College pays the town nothing for AFD services while Amherst College pays us $130,000 and UMass/Amherst about $455,000.

Vince O'Connor, in one of his more lucid moments, asked from the floor of Town Meeting if the authority of the Town Manager would extend to UMass/Amherst our #2 property owner in town.

 Solar array will save UMass $40,000 per year

And he pointed out the new 300 kilowatt solar canopy over the parking lot at the Robsham Visitor's Center as an example.

Finance Director Sandy Pooler shrugged his shoulders saying, "It's complicated."

UMass recently stopped paying the town's local option hotel tax on the Campus Center Hotel and they are holding hostage the $200,000 collected and put in escrow trying to coerce the town into signing a three year overdue "Strategic Partnership Agreement."

No comments: