Brewster may be back in the wind turbine business.
Local opponents of the discarded plan to site twin 400-foot turbines off Freeman’s Way (abandoned in 2013 after a four-year battle) can breathe easier – these proposed turbines would be in Plymouth.
Cranberry farmer Keith Mann wants to put four 450-foot-tall turbines on his 150 acres near Route 25. The idea is to sell the power to off-takers. The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative wants to be an off-taker and would sell the green energy power to NStar at a higher price and distribute the gains to member communities.
Like many energy projects progress has been a little slower in Plymouth than hoped but Future Generation has deals to sell power to Marion, Mattapoisett, Duxbury and Rochester and is seeking to contract out the rest.
When Brewster’s own turbine dreams fizzled the town signed on with CEVC and Broadway Electric to put a 4.6-megawatt solar array on the property off Freeman’s Way where the turbines would have gone. But Broadway folded in January and those kilowatt-hours evaporated, leaving Brewster about one-million kilowatt hours a year short of its goal to offset all the town’s electrical use.
So on June 30, Brewster agreed to take up to 1 million kilowatts a year from CVEC for 20 years. Several other CVEC projects will generate overcapacity, which they are making available to member towns. At the time they could supply only 499,535 kwh, but special projects coordinator Liz Argo told the selectmen on Monday 573,896 kwh were now available – now that the other 18 members have decided what their needs are. She asked the town to amend the contract as CVEC’s attorney suggested that was proper.
“All the towns have now settled in,” she said. “For the low kilowatt towns we provided their full request. Ultimately when we reshuffled the deck there were more kilowatt-hours to off-takers. Chatham reduced their amount and Orleans opted not to participate at all.”
That still leaves Brewster short.
“We hope to bring forward other projects with more net metering credits to help lower your bills,” Argo said. “Nothing is signed but there is a wind project and we’re looking for other PV opportunities – what’s the best bang for the buck?”
Future Generation is the new wind project. CVEC is not involved except as a customer. Whatever credits are available would be divided on a ratio basis between the remaining off-takers: Barnstable and Duke’s counties, Provincetown, Yarmouth, Oak Bluffs, Chilmark, Chatham, Brewster and the Monomoy Regional School District.
“So you’ll get a fair amount for each project,” Argo said. “If we take on Future Generation we would still want another project to fill out your remaining credits.”
The selectmen were reluctant to alter the contract incorporating the extra 80,000 kilowatts without a review by their town counsel. Argo urged rapid action so the next step can be taken.
“It’s not a change of any substance,” CVEC’s Brewster rep Chuck Hanson said. “It just allows a little more savings for the town. Originally we were going to be an over generator and sell to the other towns. Now we’re a net off-taker.”
“There’s a tight timeline for the contract obligation to Future Generation,” Argo added. “The documents have been forwarded to [Town Administrator] Charlie [Sumner] so hopefully you can forward them to counsel so she can get a head start. We have to sign everything by Nov. 17. We will bring forward an item soon.”
Brewster’s landfill solar array, also built through CVEC, is just now up and running. The estimate for annual production is 1,496,387 kwh a year and the 20-year savings are tabbed at $2.6 million by CVEC. CEVC projects NStar will pay 14 cents a kwh for green electricity (the net-metering credit) while the production cost for the towns is about 12 cents – hence the savings.
All of the CVEC solar arrays both rounds (1 and 2) are projected to save member towns $65,791,007 over the next 20 years, according to CVEC.
Argo said that if Brewster gets “the deal of the century” they could pull out of the 20-year agreement.
“But we don’t think you’ll get a better deal,” she said.
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