By Katina Caraganis
LUNENBURG -- Selectmen voted to approve a power-purchase agreement between New York-based NuGen Capital and the town, and also voted to approve an amendment to an already negotiated agreement with Maryland-based EPG Solar.
The agreements relate to two large-scale solar projects.
Both developers are close to having their respective payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT agreements, negotiated, and will likely be on the agenda for approval next week.
Richard Holland, an attorney with Kopelman and Paige, told the board Tuesday night that both solar projects, as proposed, would generate more credits than allowed under Unitil Corp.'s cap.
"Under the current caps in Massachusetts, it is unlikely both the EPG and NuGen facility could both be constructed in its full capacity. To the extent pending projects don't get constructed or the caps are raised, it could be possible both projects could be built to capacity," he said. "I think the board should assume that may in fact occur. Taking a conservative view, under both agreements, the town would be purchasing well over 4 million kilowatt hours a year."
Selectmen Chairman Tom Alonzo questioned why Holland put in language that only credits from NuGen Capital would be sold to other communities.
"EPG is estimating it can produce around 1.5 million kWh in the first year," she said. "NuGen is not guaranteeing any production amount. It was my understanding the board was interested in selling the NuGen credits, not the ones from EPG. I would recommend (Town Manager) Kerry (Speidel) would directly with Andy Sheehan in Townsend. This is a draft and Kerry and Andy can work out the details."
Selectman Dave Matthews said credits from EPG have more value, and it would be more beneficial for the town to use those themselves and sell the rest.
Speidel said the town uses about 2 million kWh a year while Townsend's usage is about half that.
"If we purchased all four million that will likely be generated, we would be potentially looking for another partner or partners," she said.
Holland told the board Tuesday that the market for net-metering credits has changed and that is a major factor driving the constant changes in the power-purchase agreements he's had to make.
"You're paying more for credits than you would have two years ago. Net-metering credits are generally more expensive now," he said.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.