Town Meeting voters on Monday approved an article that will allow the Board of Selectmen to negotiate a net-metering power purchasing agreement with Sage Stone LLC.
Under the approved article, Sage Stone would trade solar electricity to NStar in exchange for “net-metering credits.” These credits could be used toward the town’s electric bill.
In dollars and cents, this means that for the first five years of the solar project, Wareham would pay 90 cents on the dollar for electricity, or 10% less than the town would pay to NStar without the credits.
For the remaining 20 years of the 25-year contract, Wareham would pay 80 cents on the dollar, or 20 percent less than the town would pay to NStar without the credits.
The solar facility has yet to be built, but would be located in Plymouth. Chairman of the Board of Selectmen wanted to make sure this point was crystal clear.
“The Board of Selectmen in no way shape or form is looking to put up a windmill or a solar field…what we’re looking to do is to obtain metering credits. The town is going to put up no structures,” under the proposed article said Holmes.
The measure was met with some resistance on Town Meeting floor, when resident Brenda Eckstrom moved to change the language of the article. Eckstrom argued that the language ought to be changed to limit the type of energy sources Wareham purchases net-metering credits from to solar projects.
Eckstrom argued that the unamended language, “leaves the door wide open,” for net-metering purchasing agreements from wind or other renewable energy sources.
“I understand this is not built in Wareham…but I also am a resident of the state of MA and I know that the Cape Cod Commission has had a lot of issues with energy projects that have been put out and are now being dismantled,” said Eckstrom.
Resident Bill Heeney disagreed saying, “I don’t like the idea of limiting this. I don’t want a turbine near my house but if someone else does I’ll take their energy.”
Chairman of the School Committee Geoff Swett expressed concern that Wareham would see less money coming to them than predicted due to fluctuations in the price of energy.
“That’s not the case. The town would be getting a percentage on whatever the net-metering rate is at the time the energy is sent into the grid,” said Kleiman. “ As the electric rates go up…the town would get an increased percentage,” and if the price of energy drops, Wareham will not lose money.
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