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Turbine talks near completion

WESTPORT – Both sides of the Town Hall wind turbine negotiations said Monday they are hopeful an agreement can be reached to go forward with the project.
Selectmen J. Duncan Albert, Brian Valcourt and Town Administrator Michael Coughlin met Monday with Steve Pitney of turbine builder Alternate Energy to begin negotiating between the contracts both sides have proposed.
“I’m more optimistic this time around that we’re finally going to get somewhere,” Pitney said. “We’ll see how it all shakes out. I think we might have a deal.”
Albert said the town and Pitney “traded some ideas back and forth” and that he “hopes for an agreement.” Neither side would reveal details of the negotiations. The town has given Pitney until Thursday, the last day that the issue could be added to next week’s Board of Selectmen agenda, to respond with an offer.
There is “no chance,” Albert said, that Pitney’s proposed contract would be signed by Thursday, after when Pitney said he will add $2,500 to the turbine cost because of increases in prices of building material, because all selectmen would have to vote on the contract.
The turbine would cost $63,400, but the town expects to receive a $45,000 rebate from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
The contract signed by selectmen last October would have paid Pitney in equal 13-year installments, and if the turbine did not produce as much electricity as projected, he would have paid the town back the difference annually.
Pitney’s proposed contract stipulates he would be paid $19,020 once the contract is signed, another $19,020 when the tower is completed, $12,680 when the Highway Department completes site work for the turbine, and a final $12,680 when a certificate of completion is sent to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
Pitney’s proposal, sent to the town last week, also doesn’t include a performance guarantee.
“It represents a little more of the original bid,” he said. Pitney attributed the change in course for the turbine project to this month’s town election, when Veronica Beaulieu was not re-elected, and Valcourt, a turbine proponent, took her seat.

By Grant Welker


28 April 2008