Marion, Rochester and the ORR School District have each entered into a 20-year “power purchase agreement” with a Buzzards Bay-based wind energy company to construct wind power generation facilities that is estimated to save the towns and school district millions of dollars over the life of the agreement.
On behalf of the town, Marion Selectmen on July 24, entered into an agreement with Future Generation Wind LLC, owned by Keith and Monika Mann and Mann Farms, owners of the project. The Mann’s plan to construct up to four wind energy generation facilities on their 150-acre farm located at 810 Head of the Bay Road in Buzzards Bay with an aggregate generating capacity of up to approximately 8.0 MW AC at their Buzzards Bay property. The facilities will generate “net metering credits” Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson explained at the Marion Selectmen’s meeting.
Rochester and the ORR School District recently entered into similar agreements with Future Generation Wind LLC (FGW).
Dawson called it “win-win situation” for the town.
“With the ORR school district agreeing to be on board it results in further saving to town, reduces our carbon foot print, and provides education benefits for our school children,” Dawson said.
Project owner Keith Mann, who attended the Marion Selectmen’s July 24 meeting in the conference room at the Marion Police Station, clarified that FGW can’t make claims that it reduces an entity’s carbon footprint because there are actual standards that must be met for that designation and the wind power generation stations for this project have not yet been built. The four wind turbines the towns and the school district have signed on for will be constructed in 2013, he said.
Mattapoisett Town Administrator Michael Gagne did not return a call for comment on whether Mattapoisett is also going to part of this energy compact. However, the town appears to be moving forward with a plan to install solar arrays at its closed town dump as a way to save the town money on its municipal energy costs.
FGW plans to sell the wind energy it harnesses to NStar or its successors in the form of net metering credits. The power company would put those credits in each town or entity’s account that would be discounted from its annual municipal electric bill. It’s estimated that each entity could save between 20 and 30 percent on power costs.
“The goal here is buy just enough credits. We don’t want too many, we don’t want too little,” Dawson said.
Under the agreement, FGW will sell Marion all of the electricity generated by the project during the term agreement and award all net metering credits to Marion for use in offsetting the town’s utilities bills.
But the anticipated savings will happen overtime, Dawson noted.
“We’re talking about a 20-year contract,” Dawson said. “Certainly we were skeptical but through the education process we have come to the realize that this is good for the town.”
Dawson acknowledged that there is some concern that this Select Board is pushing this on future Select Boards and that it will tie the town to a contract if it doesn’t work. But Dawson defended the cost-cutting move.
“The absolute worst is that town receives no reduction in rates,” Dawson said. “That the absolute worst. The best is that we receive a 20- to 30-percent savings over the 20-year-period. The savings will be $1.6 to $1.7 million in savings over the life of the contract.”
Marion Energy Management Committee members Bill Saltonstall and Norm Hills, whose committee has explored several ways to save the town energy costs, including a failed attempt to have a wind turbine erected on Great Hill in Marion, attended the meeting in support.
“Generally, there is no capital expense the town is asked to cover. We’re working on a month-to month-basis. There’s really no way we can lose on this. It may take a while to recover our investment but eventually over 20-year period we’ll receive all the money in that tracking account,” Saltonstall said. “It’s really a great deal for the town and I’m just really pleased.”