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In Kingston, green projects could generate green projects

KINGSTON – Don Quixote tilted at windmills – something skeptics claimed the Green Energy Committee was doing when it spearheaded legislation and efforts to site wind turbines, solar farms and other green initiatives on Kingston soil.

Today, those dreams are moving into the realm of reality as developer Mary O’Donnell negotiates with NStar on an affordable hookup fee for her turbine project, and wind and solar projects enter the final stretch.

Imagine the town reaping $1 million in revenue through these green projects, and offering a portion of that revenue as low- or no-interest loans to residents who want to go green.

Green Energy Committee Chairman Marc Beaton wants to do more than just imagine that.

Proposals for turbines and solar farms on and abutting the Kingston landfill could generate 10 megawatts of energy and a hefty cash flow for Kingston, Beaton said.

“When the Green Energy Committee petitioned the legislature for Home Rule, we wanted any revenue from green initiatives to go into an enterprise fund and be spent on other green initiatives,” Beaton added. “The town will realize close to $1 million in revenue per year with these projects through land leases and purchase-power agreements.”

Beaton and other committee members would like to see all or a portion of this revenue placed into an enterprise fund taxpayers could borrow from at no- or low-interest rates to install wind turbines, solar panels, energy efficient furnaces or windows on their property.

“This is really exciting,” Beaton added. “For instance, say I put in $1,500 in energy-efficient windows. The way it works is the federal government gives you a tax credit up to $1,500. The town gives you the money for the upgrade, and, on April 15, you get back $1,500 from the feds and the windows cost you nothing.”

The mechanism for an enterprise fund to be used in this manner is already built into the Home Rule legislation, Beaton said.

But some committees and boards may not climb on board this plan, particularly with local revenues at an all-time low. Selectmen will discuss this issue at its Tuesday night meeting at Town Hall.

“We’d also like to have a list of preferred vendors,” Beaton said. “So the residents of Kingston that take advantage of the program would have to hire locals to do the work. We want to create jobs for the community.”

The Green Energy Committee’s plan could become a template for other communities as well – towns with landfills and other sites that could be ideal for green initiatives.

“If this is done properly, this could be a windfall for the town,” Beaton added. “We’re protecting the future for our children and grandchildren. It makes for a better world. There’s a money stream available to make it happen. All it takes is the sun to shine and wind to blow, and Mother Nature is going to help us out.”