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Mendon Voters Support Lease for Solar Facility

Mendon is a step closer to having a solar energy facility in town. At a February 24 Special Town Meeting, residents approved a measure to allow town officials to lease town-owned property located at 36 Milford St. in order to build the solar panel arrays. According to the article on the warrant, the term of the lease would be for up to 30 years.

With the passage of Article 16, town officials will now begin negotiations to enter into a lease with SunDurance Energy, a solar energy company based out of New Jersey that develops, designs, builds, and operates large scale solar power units. SunDurance representative Todd Martin was in attendance at the Town Meeting to explain the project and to answer any questions.

Mendon's solar energy facility will utilize 11 acres of the 30 acre property and is expected to be located on the northern part of the land. As a result, Martin told voters it would not be visible from Milford St. Martin also stated when the term of the lease is up, Mendon will have the option to negotiate a new lease, purchase the system, or require SunDurance to remove the solar facility and restore the property.

SunDurance's bid is to pay the town $35,000 annually for each megawatt generated; prior discussions have said that SunDurance could construct a three megawatt facility. In addition, Mendon has signed an agreement to purchase power from the facility which will reduce its electrical costs by approximately 22.5 percent; however the electrical reduction is a nonbinding agreement. "I expect it will be finalized through the lease process," said Selectman Michael Goddard after the Town Meeting.

During the Town Meeting, resident and Town Assessor Ken O'Brien spoke during the discussion explaining he did some research comparing a number of other towns which have a solar energy facility and the revenues received based on their pricing per megawatt. "Nobody is making as much per megawatt as we are," he said.

Resident Mike Watson expressed his concerns with the number of trees that would need to be cut down, as well as the any wildlife that would be affected. However, Selectman Michael Goddard stated when the town purchased the land approximately 10 years ago, the intention was always to develop it. Goddard went on to say that the solar facility was really the best option to bring in much needed revenue to the town without any costs to residents. "I'm not sure how we can say no to this," he said.

After some more discussion, the article passed by a majority vote. Still, with its passage, the solar facility must now go through various permitting and other approvals from the Planning Board and National Grid.


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