BUZZARDS BAY – Cranberry farmer Keith Mann is offering the town a municipal-power purchase deal via net-metering electricity credits and his proposed Head of the Bay wind farm just across the Buzzards Bay line.
Selectmen are considering Mann’s Future Generation Wind project offer. The Energy Advisory Committee recommends the purchase. Other towns and the Upper Cape Regional Technical High School have bought into the proposition. New Bedford is considering an agreement.
The Bourne School Committee, however, has tabled discussion about the offer because its facilities sub-committee does not have enough information about how it would work.
Mann has secured permits for four turbines on his 400 acres of cranberry acreage, stretching from Head of the Bay Road to Route 25. He says there are no upfront costs for Bourne. The town would pay for credits when the electricity is produced and the amount is reflected on Nstar billings. The agreement would be for 20 years.
Mann predicts a $4 million cost savings for the town over the two decades with a 27 percent discount from the start. He said the $8 million facility would generate electricity in a volume that is already half sold. The goal at this point, he said, is to reach the 80 percent mark. Some capacity would be kept in reserve.
If more customers are signed up soon, Mann said, project financing would be next. The project would be operational in 18 months. All state and federal permits have been secured and town boards in Plymouth have subjected the proposal to scrutiny.
Bourne town government and the school system use about 4.6 million kilowatts of energy each year.
Energy committee member Paul O’Keefe advised selectmen the Mann offer was “a good one.” He estimated yearly savings in electric costs to be in the $80,000 to $120,000 range.
Energy Coordinator Richard Elrick said the proposal includes “very little risk to the town, no permit concerns and remains a local ‘green’ project in keeping with Bourne’s stated energy goals.”
Town Administrator Thomas Guerino was prepared Tuesday night to provide selectmen with a written costs-benefit analysis of Mann’s proposal.
Selectman Donald Pickard, however, said he wants to be able to evaluate “here’s what we can save and be able to read it in black-and-white.”
Guerino said a base contract – “with no figures” – has gone to legal review by Town Counsel Robert Troy.
Mann will return to the board April 16. Selectmen will review the energy issue again April 23 and also scrutinize Troy’s recommendation.
Future Generation Wind’s project is municipal only; nothing residential. In addition, it is not to be confused with the New Generation Wind turbine complex that had been planned off Scenic Highway until it was rejected by the Cape Cod Commission two years ago.
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