Energy Committee 10/25/12 minutes


Energy Committee Meeting Minutes

October 25, 2012, 7:30 P.M. Town Hall

Present: Marie Nolan, Cynthia Greene, Lee Alinsky, Fred Davis, Charles Kellner, David Temple, Osler Peterson, Michael Sullivan and David Cressman, guest.

Chairman Nolan called the meeting to order at 7:35 pm.

I. Accept minutes of last meeting – September 27, 2012 Minutes by Mike Sullivan were accepted.

II. Dartmouth Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy Strategies Discussion with Town of Dartmouth Administrator

David Cressman, Town Administrator of Dartmouth, MA shared his experiences regarding that town’s successful renewable energy activities. He had previously been in Tewksbury. In Dartmouth, an energy committee was started around 2000 by his predecessor; the committee had significant engineering talent. The focus was wind, thinking it would provide biggest bang for buck. But around 3 yrs ago, it had become “a runaway locomotive”; they were looking at 80-100 meter turbines; that was too high, as it was in a flight path; also too close to wetlands, zoning issues, then financing. The reward looked ok, but with low confidence, only 50%, meaning high risk. At 80-90% confidence, the picture was much less rosy; plus noise concerns. Was heading for 8 MW. Switched from town-owned to a firm-owned project which would sell electricity to town. However, no wind developments ensued.

Switched focus to installing PV (photovoltaic) on capped landfill. Got town meeting approval to lease land for 20 years. By this point, there were many wind opponents who easily became solar proponents. Gave solar farm companies as-of-right in any zone in Town. Asked for RFPs, considered quality, experience, price.

Developments in the past 3 years:

  • 1.8MW ConEd [ConEdison Development] in industrial park; 20-acre parcel, 10-acre plant.
  • 2.6MW ConEd in residential Hicksville area, problems with residents, demanded special town meeting.
  • 1.3MW Borrego [Borrego Solar Systems] on Reed Rd. Sports field, abutting residential, no problems.
  • 1.4MW Borrego on landfill. Town agrees to buy back electricity at $.08 / KWH, no inflation for 20 years. Attorney General, according to 40A Sect 3, asked for consideration (?).
  • 6.2MW EMI [Energy Management Inc.], “Cape Wind company” at Energy Park, paying $.099 / KWH.
  • 3.4MW Borrego at High Hill.
  • 6.0MW No-Fossil [No Fossil Fuel] on Fisher Rd.

Electricity consumption for Dartmouth, municipal uses only, comes to 10MW. Town is buying this electricity, meaning for municipal uses, from the developers. Buying at $.08 / KWH, credit from Nstar for $.12 / KWH, therefore net $.04 / KWH cost (?). Developer sells (? or attempting to sell?) other production to area companies, after reaching capacity of sales to town. Developer is getting tax credits; making most of their money in the first 7 years, depreciation allowance. Town is also making money from leasing the land.

To do all this, Cresman highly recommends a specialist attorney. He successfully used Mark C. Kalpin, Partner, and Co-Chair of the Cleantech and Energy Group at WilmerHale, who “has a boutique business specializing in this.”

One concern is what if the support for net metering should shift? Either then would negotiate a new price, or could break the contract after paying the “terminal value.”

There is a market for Solar RECs [Solar Renewable Energy Certificate] – investments in solar projects The “Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has carved-out a portion of the RPS Class I Renewable Energy requirement to support distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) energy facilities, as provided by the Green Communities Act of 2008” – see their website for more info at:

http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/renewable-energy/solar/rps-solar-carve-out/

Dartmouth insisted that developers pay taxes, not PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes).  The Town now reached capacity for distributed generation.  Currently projecting ~$7 million in electricity savings over 20 years from these photovoltaic projects (compare that previously they had been thinking about ~$3 million from wind).  Projects must have a 30-foot vegetative buffer, and a 75-foot setback. There have been a couple of MA towns like Falmouth who “also got out of control in wind.”

Discussion followed about possible application for Medfield. Pete asked are there 20-acre parcels in Medfield that could potentially be solar generation energy sites? Answers:

  • It will be maybe ~10 yrs until Medfield’s landfill is available.
  • There are about 40 acres available behind Wheelock.
  • The wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is about 2.1 acres, already fenced in and remote (Marie: TGE can do a quick feasiblity assessment; Mike will talk with head of the WWTP). The price of land in Medfield is probably different because parts of Dartmouth are older strip-malls and dormant industrial areas. Medfield’s municipal electricity bill is $1.1 million / yr.

III. Report out on WWTP audit findings

Mike reported out on the results of the energy audit of the Wastewater Treatment Plant which was presented to the Selectmen and interested parties by NSTAR and its contractor Horizon Solutions on October 29, 2012.  The energy audit was a result of the town’s application to MA DOER for assistance with energy conservation strategies at the WWTP.

Mike reported that of all the 23 WWTP plants in the state, municipal and regional, that were audited, DOER concluded that Medfield’s was the most energy efficient! And we’re doing it all without state or federal subsidy or financing. Energy bill is ~$9000 / month. There is talk of new technology from Europe which might eventually allow the WWTP to be even more efficient.

IV. MEC follow-up to Town Charter and Bylaw Committee request

Marie wrote letter as discussed.

V. MEC/Medfield Green Winter Series on Energy Issues

  • First session: January 17 at Library, 7:00 – 8:30 pm on residential energy conservation and efficiency. Can Pasi from Sagewell come to explain infrared pictures to residents and next steps? Maybe NStar Green presentation? Consider explaining how to use kill-a-watt meters in a home? Marie will followup with Medfield Green.
  • Second session: February 28 at Library to focus on renewables, esp. individual homeowners’ experiences such as Chief of Police converting home to solar; Anna Mae O’Shea Brooke’s home conversion to  geothermal.
  • Third session: April 7 at Harmony Center to focus on electromagnetic emissions (EMFs) from technoloical advances (including smart meters) and how they affect us.  This program is being sponsored by Medfield Green and The Harmony Center.

VI. Sagewell Mass Thermal Imaging Initiative Update

David Temple wrote an article which was published in Medfield Press Friday October 12: “Utilizing Thermal Imaging Can Save You Energy, Cash: Time’s Running Out on Free Energy-Saving Programs.”

VII. Set Date and Agenda for next meeting

Thursday, November 29, 2012.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Fred Davis, thanks for help from Marie Nolan and Mike Sullivan.

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