Despite tabling the matter until they have more time to review the wind turbine contract between the Town of Coventry and Wind Energy Development LLC, School Committee members discussed the plans with Town Manager Tom Hoover and Town Council President Gary Cote at Tuesday night’s meeting.The contract was approved by the Town Council on June 4.
The Committee has been asked by the town to support the year-long wind study and future installation of one or two wind turbines at the town-owned Picillo Farm in Western Coventry. The 20-year agreement would allow Wind Energy Development to lease the land for $1 and not be allowed to install more than two turbines on the property. In one year, two turbines would create eight megawatts of electricity – enough to power the town’s municipal and school buildings annually.
Superintendent Michael Convery and several committee members had questions for Hoover and Cote regarding how the municipal and school sides would split the billing and funding of electricity, to which Hoover explained that the two sides would continue these tasks separately as they have been doing.
Committee Chairperson Kathy Patenaude asked what the outcome would be for the town if the turbines malfunctioned. Cote explained that since the town will never actually own the turbines, it would be the responsibility of Wind Energy to pay for repairs or $125,000 a year to the town to lease the land.
“It’s a good deal that has been thoroughly reviewed by the town council,” said Hoover. “I think from my standpoint it’s a very easy choice and opportunity for the schools”
Due to a malfunction in the school department’s network last week, the School Committee did not receive the agreement documents until early Tuesday evening. Because of this, Committee member Judi Liner requested that the matter be tabled until they have had enough time to review the documents completely.
“I just don’t feel comfortable approving something that I haven’t been able to read in its entirety,” she said.
Cote will meet with Wind Energy Development to sign the contract on Wednesday, but because there is no required minimum purchase of energy, the school department can decide to participate at any time.
“I look at it as a win-win situation,” said Cote. “Not only will the schools save money going forward, but we have a chance for Coventry to not follow anyone else and be a leader in the state without taking one dollar from taxpayer money.”
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