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WAREHAM – Selectmen decided to hold off on a decision to enter a net-metering power purchase agreement with Future Generation Wind LLC, pending a couple of unanswered questions.
The deal could save the town 27 percent on its municipal electricity bill, or $9 million over the course of a 25-year contract, said Future Generation sponsor Keith Mann.
Selectman Alan Slavin wanted to make sure the public understands a key factor before anyone gets up in arms.
“Wind turbines are not being built in Wareham,” said Slavin during the March 5 meeting. “We are buying the wind power from another town.”
Mann, a cranberry farmer, plans to build four turbines on his farm at 810 Head of the Bay Road in South Plymouth. He said he expects everything to be up and running within 18 months.
So far, Mann said he has made agreements with Marion, Old Rochester Regional, and Upper Cape Tech.
He also said the company is in the “final stages of discussion with a couple of other large municipalities.”
There is a 10-megawatt cap of net-metering credits per town as regulated by the state, but the town of Marion does not need to use all of its megawatts. Therefore, Wareham would be able to purchase power from Marion, a host customer, at a discounted price.
“If we don’t have enough credits, then we can add it to Marion’s total,” said Slavin.
Before moving ahead, the Selectmen wanted to figure out exactly how much power the town uses to avoid overspending.
“We work with the town administrator to get copies of the utility bills and then we make a recommendation,” said Carlos Pineda, President and CEO of Foresight Renewable Solutions, who accompanied Mann at the meeting to answer any technical questions.
Net-metering allows customers to generate their own electricity in order to offset their electricity usage. It can lower a customer’s electric bill by reducing the amount of electricity it buys from the electric company and allows the customer to be compensated for any electricity they generate, but do not use.
“It’s like buying a $100 gift card for only $75,” Pineda said.
Although wind turbines have generated numerous complaints from residents in other towns, Mann said the technology has greatly improved. The turbines built in Falmouth, for example, were stall-regulated, meaning the noise was based on the speed of the blade.
However, Mann said he is building pitch-regulated turbines, which are much less noisy because of an active control system.
As of now, Mann said a manufacturer has been selected to work on the project and Future Generation is working with NStar to finalize an agreement.
He is also working on gaining financing for the project, but does not foresee any roadblocks.
“I’ve been in discussion with banks and everyone seems optimistic,” said Mann.
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