May 2, 2012

Westport Selectmen move ahead with solar power negotiations

By Brian Boyd, 2 May 2012

WESTPORT – The town is moving closer to allowing a solar power array on its former landfill off Hix Bridge Road, which could potentially save it $100,000 a year on electric bills, officials said.

Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to have interim Town Administrator Jack Healey negotiate with a solar power company about leasing a portion of the land for the purpose of constructing an array. The exact number of panels remains to be determined.

After discussing the matter in a closed session, they announced in a public meeting they wanted Healey to negotiate with American Capital Energy, a North Chelmsford-based company.

Panels would sit on the top of the capped landfill and possibly along the southern slope, covering about 5 acres. The plan would make use of the former landfill, which is next to the town’s transfer station, Selectman Antone C. Vieira Jr. said afterward.

“It has just been sitting there,” Vieira said. “The transfer station would not be affected.”

The number of panels depends on the size of panels used for the project. The project could produce 600,000 kilowatts, almost half of the town’s needs, he said.

Officials are also weighing the possibility of installing an industrial wind turbine on another portion of the land, as well as striking deals with other solar energy farms in the region, he added.

“We’re kind of weighing all of the proposals at the same time,” Vieira said.

If approved, Article 30 of the annual Town Meeting warrant would authorize the town to lease the site for up to 30 years. Town Meeting was scheduled to begin Tuesday night.

American Capital Energy describes itself on its website as a solar engineering, procurement and construction contractor and solar developer. The company says it works with businesses to adopt solar power as a cost-saving measure and with utilities to meet their renewable energy requirements.

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