Energy Committee Chairman Bryan Dumont provided the following information to clarify points in an article that ran in last week's Shirley Oracle.
Solar Project Slated for Water District Land
Town Meeting in 2011 authorized the selectmen to enter into talks with a solar provider. The project spoken of at last week's meeting will be launched in phases, 1a, 1b, etc.
It is not a pilot solar project, however, but a solar project.
Dumont explained that PILOT in this instance isn't a term meaning a program tryout. It is an acronym.
"We were asking the selectmen to approve the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) which they did," he said.
"Here is what I told them (selectmen) and they approved," Dumont continued.
Phase 1.a -- A PILOT payment of $6,837 per megawatt, or $20,511 per year in taxation to be derived from the solar project on Shirley Water District property. For the 20-year life of the contract, the total would be $410,200, with two (2) five-year extensions proposed.
Phase 1.b - Half megawatt of electricity "feeding the town."
The town gets a discounted electric rate from 14.2 to 8.6 cents per KWH (kilowatt hour) on all town-owned properties, equal to about "40-plus percent" savings on town utilities.
The town also gets land lease and PILOT combination of $4,400 (1/2 meg) per year. And the land lease portion escalates at 2 percent per year.
An additional 2.5 megs (more than likely cited on SWD land) would pay the town $6,837 in lieu of taxes per meg, or $17,093 per year for the 2.5 meg array, or $3,41,860 for the 20-year life of the contract, with two (2) five-year extensions.
Summarizing benefits to the town for phase 1 a and 1 b, Dumont cited annual revenue (PILOT payments for solar installment on SWD land) of $37,604 and over 20-year life of contract, total revenue of $752,080. Plus reduced electric rates for town-owned properties.
Dumont went on to describe details for Phase 2, which is "still being worked," he said, and requires approval from the grid and a direct connection to the transformer station at Bishop and Park streets in Ayer.
One Company Selected to Build, Another to Appraise for PILOT
On another point, Dumont said that while EPG was the committee-selected project developer, the firm is not only one of two companies in the state that can do the specialized work required for solar, as the article stated.
"What Becky (Principal Assessor Becky Boucher) and I were referring to when I mentioned we got only one of two state-certified people was the company that did the appraisal," Dumont said.
This is new technology, and the payment set-up is new ground, so to get a fair payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) the assessors and the Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue wanted a certified appraisal, Dumont continued. The company, Fitzgerald Appraisal, has the qualifications to do that, he explained.
"This is very complicated stuff ... always moving and flowing with land and conservation issues, taxation, land leases..."Dumont said. "The Energy Committee has been fully immersed in this project for 14 to 16 months."
"We have an owner's agent who is state-recognized as an expert (having worked as a consultant for the state on solar and energy issues) so we do not make a costly mistake."
Dumont said the solar project is "only one of three major projects" the Energy Committee is working on. The others are town-wide lighting and performance contracting.
-- M.E. Jones