WESTPORT – Three weeks after selectmen signed the contract, the dispute between town officials and the Town Hall wind turbine contractor is no closer to a resolution.
Steve Pitney of Plymouth-based Alternate Energy LLC objects to the town’s plan to pay him in annual installments over 13 years. Town officials have said they are open to other suggestions, but Mr. Pitney is not offering any alternatives.
Instead, Mr. Pitney said he wants to receive the money when he completes the job, rather than in installments. He and other proponents have repeatedly accused selectmen of trying to kill the project. No work has begun.
“I’m considering legal action because they are not negotiating in good faith,” he said.
In response to Mr. Pitney’s latest comments, Town Administrator Michael J. Coughlin said selectmen based their contract on the guarantee he offered.
“The manner in which Mr. Pitney now appears to be backing away from the representations he made before the Board of Selectmen raises the specter of whether these guarantees were ever made in good faith,” Mr. Coughlin said.
During the Oct. 9 selectmen’s meeting, Mr. Pitney guaranteed the town would make back its $18,400 investment in 13 years or he would pay the difference.
Town officials agreed to the 120-foot turbine, at the cost of $63,400, on the condition it receives a $45,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to pay most of the costs.
The town will pay $45,000 to Mr. Pitney once it receives the grant. It will pay the $18,400 in equal installments over a period of 13 years, according to the contract signed by a majority of selectmen.
Town officials wanted the installment plan as a way to ensure the guarantee. Mr. Pitney countered he never had offered what he considers a no-interest financing scheme.
In addition to balking at the installment plan, Mr. Pitney is ruling out a 13-year bond as an alternative because he believes that would add unnecessary costs to the project.
Mr. Coughlin said Mr. Pitney should bring any counter-proposal or suggestions directly to the selectmen.
“It’s highly inappropriate to negotiate this through the media,” he said.
By Brian Boyd
Standard-Times staff writer
14 November 2007
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