November 26, 2012

Brewster solar deal with CVEC near

By Rich Eldred | WickedLocalCapeCod | Nov 26, 2012 |

BREWSTER – The turbine project has drifted away on the breeze but Brewster is still trying to forge a deal to erase the town’s energy bill.

Brewster is dickering with Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, of which they are a member, for a contract to construct a solar array on town owned land off Freeman’s Way. This is in lieu of the planned twin turbines that were originally slated to go on the site near the water department on Route 6 and across the road from Captains Course.

CVEC’s treasurer Mark Zielinski and attorney Jeffrey Bernstein met with representatives from NStar to discuss hooking into the grid. The electricity produced by the array will be sold to NStar and offset against the town’s electrical usage.

“Cash-out would be a simpler and better deal for the town,” said Chuck Hanson, Brewster’s representative on the CVEC board told the town energy committee.

Net metering would allow the town’s electric bill, through its 43-different accounts, to be reduced by a proportional amount of the electricity produced by the array. However that is a major headache for NStar so the thought is they’d be willing to pay more in direct cash, perhaps twice as much, to avoid it.

“It’s a gigantic nightmare for bookkeeping,” Hanson said.

Brewster is close to an agreement.

“The project development agreement requires an easement for Broadway (Electric – the developer hired by CVEC) to do the work and (town attorney) Sarah (Turano-Flores) doesn’t think CVEC needs an easement,” Hanson said. “This will go to Broadway and see if the financiers agree with the changes.”

Dan Rabold, selectmen chairman, said the town hoped to have a signed agreement by Dec. 20.

Energy committee member Chris Powicki thinks Brewster would be better off without CVEC.

“The town should be pushing to own all the systems rather than CVEC,” he said.

CVEC is also working on several solar arrays at the Brewster landfill that are now slated for completion in 2014.

“The landfill is still in NSTar’s hands,” Hanson said.

Mitch Relin of Brewster Citizens for Responsible Energy wondered when CVEC, which has received $2.2 million from Cape Light Compact, would be self supporting.

“I don’t know exactly,” Hanson replied. “I would expect given the slowness of all this we’re a year or two away at minimum.”

Relin also wondered about conflicts of interest, since there are a couple of shared board members between the organizations. Much of the funding provided CVEC by CLC has gone to pay legal fees for contract negotiations and the attorney for both groups (BCK Law) is the same and the firm has offered a favorable legal view of the transfers.

“We discussed that at great length at a meeting yesterday,” Deane Keuch, Brewster’s CLC rep said. “Jeff Bernstein was there and made a power point presentation and he confirmed that he is perfectly able to represent CVEC and CLC without conflict of interest.”

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