BOSTON – Falmouth is on track to receive up to $1.8 million over roughly the next 15 years to help offset money the town lost in reduced wind turbine operation.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, or MassCEC, approved the relief funds by a vote at the agency’s board of directors meeting Wednesday. The agency has worked with Falmouth on the wind turbines at the town’s wastewater treatment plant since 2009.
“It’s somewhat complicated, but I think it represents an effort to strike a balance between helping to mitigate the financial impact the town is incurring on an ongoing basis,” MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton said at the meeting in downtown Boston. She called the plan a financial reward to the town of Falmouth.
The $1.8 million includes a one-time $500,000 donation to the town’s wind turbine reserve account. However, MassCEC’s donation depends on voters approving a $300,000 contribution to the fund at a town meeting April 7.
A November court order that cut Falmouth’s turbine operating hours from 16 hours a day, seven days a week, to 12 hours a day excluding Sundays is expected to cost Falmouth between $250,000 and $280,000 annually. The lost revenue was specifically intended to pay for wind turbine maintenance and operations, Falmouth Town Manager Julian M. Suso wrote in his budget message Dec. 23.
“With reduced hours of operation and a loss of one-seventh of revenue, we don’t make up for that major loss of revenue without a subsidy,” Suso said Wednesday.
Falmouth also could receive up to $85,000 a year for roughly the next 15 years from MassCEC’s guaranteed purchase of renewable energy certificates, depending on certificate price. MassCEC agreed to pay no more than $45 for the certificates representing 1,000 one thousand kilowatt-hours of renewable energy.
Wednesday’s agreement amends a 2009 agreement between Falmouth and MassCEC in which the agency agreed to prepay the town $1 million for renewable energy certificates generated by the project.
MassCEC is a publicly funded agency created by the Green Jobs Act of 2008 and seeks to foster growth of the Massachusetts clean energy industry.
Although Suso would not speculate about what would happen if the town decided against the $300,000 allocation, he did say he was “guardedly optimistic” about the outcome.
“Town members will see the logic in operating this in a business way,” he said. “The turbines are owned by the taxpayers and we need to be responsible to use these one-time available funds.”
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