BUZZARDS BAY – Solar power wins out over wind energy when it comes to Bourne agreeing to a municipal alternative-energy power purchase with a considerable electricity bill savings when measured over two decades.
Town Administrator Thomas Guerino on Tuesday signed a 20-year agreement with Bluewave Solar. Selectmen quickly and unanimously endorsed Guerino’s decision.
The agreement forgoes a pact with Future Generation Wind of Buzzards Bay, a wind-turbine operation planned by Head of the Bay cranberry grower Keith Mann. And there will be no alternative-energy diversification investment by the town.
“My recommendation to selectmen was to go completely with solar,” Guerino said.
Guerino said he spoke with individual selectmen last week about his recommendation
“I wouldn’t sign anything for 20 years without the elected officials being on board,” Guerino said. “I don’t think any one individual should be able to do that. We had hoped for a split between solar and wind.
“We tried for a split,” Guerino said. “There were a lot of variables and ‘what-ifs.’ Taking the what-ifs out of the alternative-energy equation for the town and looking at the numbers, there’s not really anything I can recommend except solar.”
Guerino advised selectmen and the town’s Energy Advisory Committee that the net savings between Bluewave and New Generation is considerable. Over the life of a 20-year contract, the estimated cumulative savings in electric costs by going with Bluewave would total $5.4 million.
Under the agreement, Bourne would initially buy net-metering credits from Bluewave at a negotiated amount of nine cents per kilowatt hour for two megawatts of direct current. The amount would be less than the local electric grid operating rate; plus transmission, transition and distribution charges.
The savings to the town is the difference between the price paid to the Bluewave as the provider and the credit received from the utility company. The agreement with Bluewave would accommodate inflation in energy rates.
Bourne Energy Coordinator Richard Elrick last week was somewhat surprised by difference in annual savings between solar and wind. He said he still supports the concept of alternative energy diversification when it comes to municipal investment.
“It always seems to make sense to me to spread the mix around,” Elrick said. “But I haven’t seen the numbers, and I’d like to review the spread sheets.”
Energy advisory panel members were also somewhat surprised with the turn of events.
Member Robert Schofield said that like financial investments, he supports a mix. But he said he understands the current solar-energy issues affecting that industry.
“There’s not a good chance our same rates will be given on anything in the future,” he said.
“I agree with Mr. Guerino,” Schofield said. “But I’m still very strong on a mix.”
Guerino said he understands that basic energy-diversification sentiment. “I believe in diversification,” he said. “There are down-sides either way.”
Selectman Peter Meier on Tuesday night asked Guerino if Mann’s Future Generation proposal had been offered the opportunity to revise its proposal. Guerino said it had; that Mann had been asked “to sharpen his pencil.”
Guerino said the agreement with Bluewave allows that company as well as the town avenues to withdraw from the pact should adverse developments in the alternative-energy realm arise.
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