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PETERBOROUGH

Key details of solar project still being worked out

Taxes, ownership, rent among issues under negotiation, says public works director

Chris Anderson of Borrego Solar describes a plan for a solar array at the Peterborough wastewater treatment plant at a Select Board meeting on Tuesday.

Chris Anderson of Borrego Solar describes a plan for a solar array at the Peterborough wastewater treatment plant at a Select Board meeting on Tuesday. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

PETERBOROUGH — As town officials move ahead with plans for a solar array to generate power for the wastewater treatment plant, details of a power purchase deal between Peterborough and Borrego Solar, the Lowell, Mass., company that will build the project, are still being worked out.

Chris Anderson, a Peterborough resident who is Borrego Solar’s chief technology officer, described the array to Select Board members Tuesday, saying estimates show it will be able to generate 1,189,058 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, with 60 to 70 percent of the energy going directly to the wastewater plant. The rest could be credited to other town facilities through a newly approved net metering system.

Earlier this month, Water Street Solar, a subsidiary of Borrego Solar, was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the state’s renewable energy fund. The money will enable the company to obtain additional financing to build the solar array, which will be placed on a 3.5-acre former sewage lagoon outside the wastewater plant.

Town officials have estimated the project could save the town between $400,000 and $800,000 over a 20-year period.

Public Works Director Rodney Bartlett said after the meeting that the town is working to put together a power purchase agreement with Borrego.

“We’re in uncharted territory here,” Bartlett said. “Details about taxes, ownership and rent are still being negotiated.”

Bartlett said Water Street Solar will pay property taxes based on the value of the equipment installed, similar to other businesses that make capital investments.

The town is expecting to pay about 8 cents per kilowatt hour to Water Street for energy generated. Bartlett has said the town currently pays about 13.9 cents per kilowatt hour, due to distribution and demand charges that would not apply to energy generated on site.

Anderson said net metering will enable excess energy generated to show up as a credit on the town’s utility bill for the wastewater plant, and the credits can be applied to other utility meters used by the town.

“The town will save money,” Bartlett said. “How much is still to be determined.”

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