WESTPORT – Selectmen want the contractor chosen for a proposed Town Hall wind turbine to give them an answer to their offer.
For three months, contractor Steve Pitney of Plymouth-based Alternate Energy LLC and the town have been at odds over the terms of the contract.
Mr. Pitney never turned down the project, nor have officials withdrawn the proposed contract. The project has remained in limbo.
Selectmen voted last week to send Mr. Pitney a letter asking him to respond to the proposed contract, Town Administrator Michael J. Coughlin said. Officials want to know where he stands so they can proceed, Mr. Coughlin said.
“I believe the first step is to ascertain the status of the project in his mind, and hopefully spark a dialogue on this issue,” he said.
He expected the letter would go out by the end of last week. Mr. Pitney objects to the contract signed by selectmen because he would receive the town’s portion of the costs in 13 annual installments, rather than getting the money up front.
Although Mr. Pitney has not seen the letter yet, he said he wants the town to drop the plan for annual payments and go back to the way the project was advertised.
“I’ll ask them to rewrite the contract so it reflects the original documents,” he said. The annual payments were “never anything I offered. It was never in the bid documents.”
During the Oct. 9 selectmen meeting, Mr. Pitney offered a guarantee that the town would recoup its $18,400 investment through savings in 13 years or he would pay the difference.
Town officials have said the installment plan fairly translates that guarantee into contractual language. It was included in the revised contract signed by selectmen Oct. 22. However, Mr. Pitney said he never agreed to what he considers a no-interest financing scheme.
“I’m not a bank that loans money out at zero percent interest,” Mr. Pitney said in an interview last week.
Town Meeting approved funding for a Town Hall wind turbine last year, but most of the selectmen have been skeptical about the potential savings. However, they voted 3-2 on Oct. 9 to sign the contract after Mr. Pitney’s guarantee convinced enough skeptics.
Town officials agreed to the 120-foot turbine, at a cost of $63,400, on the condition that 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 13 years, according to the contract.
Town Meeting’s appropriation of $63,400 for the effort remains on the books and must be acted on one way or another, Mr. Coughlin said.
If Mr. Pitney drops out, the town probably would have to advertise for bids for a new contractor, he said.
Mr. Pitney said that since selectmen signed the contract, MTC has instituted a new standard contract for wind turbine projects. He said he probably will include a copy of that standard contract with his response to the selectmen.
By Brian Boyd
Standard-Times staff writer
22 January 2008
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