KINGSTON – The closing of the books on what turned out to be a negative experience for the town may be coming soon with town officials ready to move on with a new agreement for the removal of the Independence wind turbine.
The turbine would literally be reduced to scrap metal to make way for a 2.8 megawatt (DC) solar array on the former town landfill that will be larger than originally planned, resulting in additional revenue to the town.
The Board of Selectmen was unanimous Tuesday night in its support of the town of Kingston entering into an agreement with Kearsarge Kingston, LLC, of Boston, and Cathay Bank for removal of the turbine on the former town landfill.
Selectmen also authorized the town administrator to negotiate with Kearsarge Kingston on the repayment of costs incurred to remove the turbine using the additional revenue due to the town from the solar array expansion and amend the solar power sales agreement.
By approving the agreement, officials are moving on from trying to recoup all the money owed to the town by Kingston Wind Independence, the original owner of the turbine before it defaulted on a loan from Cathay Bank that was the subject of legal action filed in U.S. District Court.
Town counsel Jay Talerman said it stands to reason that KWI is likely judgment-proof, in response to Selectman Jess Kramer’s questions about the town’s ability to continue to pursue legal action against KWI over nonpayment of rent and taxes and other debts once the agreement is signed.
“We are forfeiting, likely, through this process the ability to attach the turbine or anything else in exchange for the greater good, which is getting a revenue-positive development of this space that is less cumbersome, less objectionable to the neighborhoods, so we are giving up something,” he said.
The turbine was shut down in 2016 due to a manufacturing defect that was never corrected, and KWI defaulted on its obligations to the town to lease the land and the bank to pay for the turbine. After failing to remove the turbine as ordered by the town, KWI waived its rights to the title and interest.
Talerman said that he will be reaching out to Kingston Wind Independence about approving the agreement and completing the paperwork required to terminate the old lease for the turbine among other documents.
The selectmen were not required to hold a hearing but chose to do so.
The removal of the turbine by Kearsarge Kingston for an estimated cost of $400,000 to $600,000 will happen as soon as possible in order to meet their deadlines, according to Andrew Bernstein, managing partner at Kearsarge Energy LLC, the home company of Kearsarge Kingston.
Bernstein said the total revenue to the town will be $3.64 million gross over 20 years to be offset by the cost of wind turbine removal once it’s bid. The cost of removal would be repaid in seven years by the solar company through power generation. He said the goal is to begin solar operations in the third quarter of 2022.
Kearsarge replaced IGS Solar of Ohio as the developer of the solar array.
The turbine would be dismantled in pieces using a crane to take it apart with state Department of Environmental Protection approval and in cooperation with the town’s highway department.
Bernstein said three companies are bidding on the rights to the parts, as most of it can’t be used again. He said the least expensive option would have been to schedule an implosion, but the state won’t allow it.
“The good news is that it won’t be that difficult to take this wind turbine down because to build it the original developer had to build a whole platform that still exists on the landfill,” he said.
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