Antrim select board explores solar options 

  • Antrim select board member Mike Genest looks over a solar energy proposal presented during a regular meeting Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, March 05, 2018 5:36PM

The co-founder of a New England solar company approached Antrim select board members to discuss a potential project for the town.

Andrew Kellar, of the New England Solar Garden Corp., laid out the possibility of implementing a small-scale ground or rooftop solar project during a regular select board meeting Monday night. 

“It’s a progressive town,” Kellar said about Antrim, pointing to the incoming nine-turbine wind project and an already-running hydro dam. He said it would be nice if solar had a presence in town as well.

During the meeting on Monday night, select board members expressed interest in pursuing a solar project that could possibly help stabilize electricity costs.

“There are two pieces here, there’s a piece like do you guys want to have a presence and show that you're committed to this,” Kellar said. “... And then we have to make sure that it makes economic sense to the town.”

A description of the solar company on a website says it matches members who want to purchase solar power with farmers and other landowners who host solar-array projects. The company has partnered with other towns including Franklin and Milton. The project in Milton is built on an active 4-acre landfill and generates enough to power about 200 homes.

That template of using town land that is otherwise of no use to the town is fairly typical for the company. Kellar said in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript after the meeting that the company approached town officials in Antrim about two years ago with a plan to implement solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant. Kellar said that project never came to fruition because of a confluence of factors, including state-level net-metering caps that have since been erased, and issues at the site that would have made the project too expensive. Kellar said the issues meant that the “project went stale for a while.”

Kellar approached the board again on Monday night with a “totally separate concept” than its first.

He said if the town were to move forward with a smaller project it could save about $38,284 over the course of 25 years.

At one point during the meeting, Selectman Bob Edwards asked, “should we be looking at a bigger project?”

Kellar said he would assess roofs on town buildings and non-usable town land to see if there is a potential for a larger project. He said he would be in contact Town Administrator Donna Hanson to further discuss options.

If the town opted for an industrial park solar project, it could potentially save $532,644 over the same timeframe, according to a company handout.

“We’re just exploring options at this point,” Kellar said.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.