Brewster may be wind powered after all, at least in part, four years after a proposed turbine project on town land was blocked by the planning board and town meeting.
Monday, the selectmen voted 4-1 to pursue a deal with Future Generation Wind of Plymouth. They have until Nov. 17, to reach an agreement.
“I have concerns that Brewster will subscribe to a project that is controversial and detrimental to the neighbors,” said selectman Ben deRuyter who voted no. “There are a lot of unknowns here and the project is a 20-year agreement with very modest benefits ($11,000 a year).”
“When the Commerce Park project fell apart we wanted to provide the municipal load through alternative energy and this is the opportunity that came up,” Selectman John Dickson noted. “The risk in doing this is less than there would have been in the Commerce Park project.”
The town had planned to cover all their electricity needs, and generate excess power, by partnering with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative to build a 20-acre solar array off Freeman’s Way. However, the builder, Broadway Electric, abruptly went out of business last January and the project was scrubbed.
So despite the new solar array at the recycling center (now in full operation) the town remained 1 million kilowatt hours a year short of covering their bill.
Earlier on Monday the selectmen voted 5-0 to amend upwards their previous deal with CVEC for 499,000 kwh and purchase 573,836 hours worth of net-metering credits a year from the other solar projects CVEC has facilitated at Barnstable Municipal Airport and Fire District and in Harwich, Edgartown, Tsibury, Chatham and at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School. That should save the town $19,593 a year and $552,807 over the deal’s 20-year lifespan.
Brewster inked the earlier deal last summer but when Orleans dropped out as a buyer and other towns modified their own requests more electricity/credits became available to Brewster.
The credits will actually accrue to Brewster as cash offsetting their electric bill. NStar is buying the green electricity generated by all the solar arrays, the vendor (American Capital Energy) charges the towns a lower figure for operation and building and the difference (a little over two cents a kilowatt) is converted into the credits.
“Twelve cents with a two-cent benefit is very very good,” noted CVEC special projects coordinator Liz Argo.
Brewster had requested 1,000,300 kwh a year so they’re still 426,464 short, which is why they’re looking into the wind power from Plymouth.
Town attorney Sarah Turano-Flores will work out the language for the agreement prior to the board’s Nov. 10 meeting. She also be working on the wind power contract.
Future Generation plans to build four turbines on a 380-acre cranberry farm just off Route 25 in Plymouth.
“That’s 95 acres per turbine,” Argo explained. “The closest neighbor is 1,600 feet away and has a settlement in place and the next six are 1800 feet away. The lands to the north are not populated. It’s an Ocean Spray cranberry farm and the Mann family has been there three generations.”
The project is being financed by Con-Ed Solutions. The power purchase agreement would run 20 years with a five-year option. Future Generation has already agreed to sell power to Marion, Duxbury, Rochester and New Bedford.
“CVEC worked hard to get a fixed price, something you can bank on,” Argo said. “The price is 11.5 cents per kwh. We’ve added on an adder for operation to pay for the legal costs. CEVC will earn $15,000 a year through the adder.”
The town energy committee noted that electricity use has increased by over 100,000 kwh a year and asked to selectmen to raise the request for the wind-powered credits to 526,464 a year, at 11.5 cents apiece which would net the town $11,056 in year one and $221,115 over the life of the deal.
Combining this with the previously approved contract would shave $788,000 off Brewster’s electricity bills through 2034.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding