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Selectmen Open to Expanding Solar Energy Commitment

The Board of Selectmen agreed at its August 5 meeting to review a proposal to increase the amount of solar energy-generated electricity it is buying. Joseph Fitzpatrick, CEO of Thornton, New Hampshire-based DG Clean Power, LLC (DGCP), met with selectmen to inform them that the five million kilowatt hours (kWh) of power from a project in Northbridge the town agreed last year to buy has now come on line.

That project will save the town an estimated $115,000 on electricity costs this year and an estimated $4 million over the 20-yaer life of the town's contract, Fitzpatrick said. He proposed that the town look at purchasing power from two more projects, which he said would save the town $266,000 per year and $9.5 million over a 20-year period.

The current project and the two proposed ones involve a concept known as "net metering," in which National Grid would provide the town with a certain credit per kWh, DGCP would bill the town a lesser amount, and the town would keep the difference as savings. For example, with the Northbridge project, the town receives a credit of 13.5 cents per kWh from National Grid and is billed 9.5 cents by DGCP, with the town keeping the four-cent difference.

Fitzpatrick said the current Northbridge project and the ones he is proposing would yield a total annual savings of $266,000 and a 20-year savings of $13.5 million for the town. "I'd ask you to give this serious consideration," he said. "This has become a fairly active and popular program." He said the timing for signing on would be in the late fall.

"I think the previous agreement that we entered into was excellent," Selectman Brian Murray said. He thanked Renewable Energy Committee Chair John Tehan for bringing the idea forward last year. By helping the solar energy industry and reducing the town's electricity bills, "to me it works on both fronts," Murray said. "I don't see any reason why we wouldn't look into this project further," Chairman William Buckley said.

The board voted unanimously to have DGCP provide the town with a draft contract for Town Counsel Gerald Moody to review.

In other business, the board unanimously approved Town Administrator Richard Villani's proposal to hold the fall Special Town Meeting on Monday, October 21. The warrant for the meeting was opened on August 5, and will be closed at noon on September 12.

Selectmen approved two requests:

• The Tradesmen received a one-day all-alcoholic license to hold a cookout in its back parking lot from 11 a.m. on September 1 to 1 a.m. on September 2.

• WMRC radio received permission to hang a banner across 174-173 Main St. from August 12-27 to promote its seventh Annual Radiothon to benefit the Oliva Fund for Cancer Care at Milford Regional Medical Center.


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