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Bourne mulls solar, wind options to cut its annual electric costs  

Credit:  Bourne Courier | April 18, 2013 | www.wickedlocal.com ~~

Think solar power. And wind energy. And the possibility that Bourne’s annual electric cost would be reduced by proposed municipal power-purchase agreements with Future Generation Wind in Head of the Bay and BlueWave Capital of Boston.

Future Geneation Wind is headed up by cranberry grower Keith Mann of Buzzards Bay and the BlueWave solar developer’s manager partner is John DeVillars, the former U.S. administrator for Environmental Protection Agency in New England.

Town Administrator Thomas Guerino is considering proposals from both groups, saying he will not recommend to selectmen a mix of more than 80 percent of underwriting Bourne’s annual electric load. Prospective power-purchase contracts are also being reviewed by Town Counsel Robert Troy.

Both proposals come highly recommended by the Bourne Energy Advisory Committee and Bourne Energy Coordinator Richard Elrick.

Selectwoman Linda Zuern, meanwhile, wants a presentation from the energy committee so she can learn how members came to recommend both alternative energy companies.

Selectman Donald Pickard prefers a report from Bourne Facilities Director Jon Nelson amd Elrick.

Future Generation has secured state and Plymouth permits to build turbines on his cranberry acreage that straddles Route 25 and Head of the Bay Road. BlueWave plans to build a solar array in an old industrial park at North Plymouth.

There is an unanswered question in the review of alternative energy options. Is solar a better deal for the town than wind?

Guerino does not have an answer. Yet. But he said he may recommend a split between wind and solar if the town opts to buy net-metering credits.

“The landfill in a few years might be available for solar arrays,” he said. “But not now. Is solar a better deal than wind? That’s been explored by the energy committee.”

Energy panel member Paul O’Keefe of Monument Beach advised selectmen that his committee recommends entering into negotiations with both groups. Diversification is a strong feature of that recommendation, he said.

“Partner with both and don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he said. “You have to think about the probabilities of success. Neither project has financing yet. But the town would pay only for the kilowatt hours of electricity that are generated.

“The only thing is missed opportunity,” he said. “Missed savings for the town.”

DeVillars told selectmen that solar could provide “a hedge against future energy price increases.”

Mann told selectmen pretty much the same thing, stressing the point that if he encountered equipment difficulties with his turbines, there would be no charge to the town for repairs and replacement.

BlueWave plans a 2.5-megawatt facility in Plymouth. He envisions a $140,000 savings in electric costs during the first year of a Bourne agreement. The savings over two decades could amount to $3.5 million.

James Mulvey of Buzzards Bay reminded selectmen that “the devil’s in the details.” That is, he said, promises made in presentations about reducing municipal electricity costs are one thing; “what’s said in the contract is another.”

Guerino will provide his alternative energy recommendations to selectmen on April 23.

Source:  Bourne Courier | April 18, 2013 | www.wickedlocal.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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