Marion – Beginning in 2014, Marion could see a 30 percent reduction in its monthly electric bills following the Selectmen’s approval to enter into an alternative energy agreement with a wind turbine project in Plymouth.
On Tuesday, July 24, the Selectmen, with the endorsement of the Marion Energy Management Committee and Town Administrator Paul Dawson, agreed to a 20-year contract with Future Generation Wind.
Keith Mann, owner of Future Generation Wind and Mann Farms, said the wind turbines would likely be constructed by 2014 on his cranberry farm off of Route 25 in Plymouth.
Once constructed, the wind turbines would generate enough net metering credits to reduce the town’s monthly electric bill with NSTAR by 20 to 30 percent, depending on the fluctuating rates of electricity. As of now, the town’s annual bill averages $398,511.
Marion officials have been in negotiations with the Old Rochester Regional School District and Rochester officials for some time now seeking alternative energy resources to cut costs.
Two months ago, May Town Meeting voters approved an article allowing the Selectmen to enter in to an agreement if it proved in the town’s best interest.
The benefits of this agreement are substantial, Dawson said.
To start, Marion does not have to incur any costs of construction for the wind turbines. Secondly, the deal should ensure that the town saves an estimated $1.7 million on its electrical bills over a 20-year period.
Bill Saltonstall, a member of the Marion Energy Management Committee, supported the deal.
“There is no capital expense for the town to cover,” Saltonstall said. “There’s really no way we could lose on this. We think it’s a very good arrangement for the town. I’m just really pleased.”
“We’re really very comfortable. The project has been vetted by our own Town Counsel, Rochester’s Town Counsel and the Old Rochester Regional School District’s Counsel. There were a lot of issues our Town Counsel raised and we were able to come to a resolution. We’re satisfied,” Dawson said.
Another benefit of the deal, Dawson said would likely be seen in reductions of the ORR budget assessments to the town to pay for both the Junior and Senior High Schools’ utilities needs.
Under the current agreement with the school district, the three towns – Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester – are assessed a portion of the budget based on the number of students enrolled in the two schools from each town.
Dawson also suggested that the soon to be constructed wind turbines may serve as an educational tool for the students of ORR in the future. The students, he said, could use the turbines to study how electrical power is generated.
On Monday, July 23, the ORR School Committee also sided favorably on the project. The members voted to continue their negotiations with Mann and officials from Marion and Rochester.
With no start-up costs to Marion, Dawson said the deal is a positive move for the town.
“The worst case scenario is the town receives no reduction in its rates,” Dawson said. “In that case, we pay the monthly bill as always. This appears to be a win-win situation.”
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