New Kinds of Solar Agreements Considered for Chester and Blooming Grove
Town News Update
By Edie Johnson
New Solar Group Makes Offer to Chester – As area towns wrap up the finishing touches of their solar codes, a new kind of solar animal has come to town. With codes varying significantly from town to town, and companies who offer solutions developing contracts with very different conditions as well, third party advisors are now popping up. They offer negotiating skills and promise to deliver the “best” solar deal around. The Town of Chester had a presentation last month by a company offering these types of services, with the partners emphasizing they have international experience in finding the best quality solar panels, exploring the each town’s installation options (rooftop or ground mounts either at a town hall site, elsewhere on property the town owns, and/or educational buildings in town), will hire the best local installation contractor, and essentially take the worry and work out of the process. The intermediary group would retain half of the savings as their profit. In addition they offer a management plan for the life of the solar contract, usually 20 years, and would monitor the production statistics, and resolve any problems that might come up during those years.
Chester is examining this option very carefully, as one of many. Like “the new company kid on the block” there may be pitfalls as well as advantages to go along with this type of program. It does offer a promise of the best quality of solar panels available, whereas with most companies the buyer gets whatever brand is delivered, and they are said to differ significantly in quality. Chester already has one Community Solar project completed at the Johnson Farm, and another community solar project is very near completion in the planning process.
Blooming Grove Solar Code Is Likely On Verge of Exemption From Moratorium
In this week’s Blooming Grove Workshop, Planning Chair, Ralph Maffei, and the town’s attorney described the finishing touches they want to add to solar code. Those changes, being minimal at this point such as not being permitted in scenic viewsheds, scenic watersheds, forests or scenic gateways, bond assurances, herbicide restrictions and the like have been thoroughly studied as to their concurrence with the rest of the town’s comprehensive code. With two applications waiting for well over a year for consideration, the applicants made yet another plea that they could lose valuable state and federal rebates if the process does not conclude very soon. Maffei recommended that the process is close enough to completion that he is comfortable allowing the applications to be submitted IF they are accompanied by an affidavit that is notarized that states the applicant will honor any additional criteria added between now and the time of their final approval.
Supervisor, Bob Fromaget, inclined to agree, said he would review that as a final disposition with attorney Dennis Lynch later in the week and hopefully put the issue to rest.
In Other Business
The Blooming Grove Highway department building was in fact determined to have asbestos in the roofing material. Plans for repair will be put off until Spring after a payment strategy is developed and engineering done.
After a lengthy discussion of whether to include residency requirements for employees that work under elected officials, it was decided that this issue as well would be held off until next year.
A backhoe will be rented to address drainage issues at the Green Space. Some dead willow trees have been removed and roots as well as trash will be removed where it prevents proper drainage. A fine will be put in place of $1,000 for any dumping that occurs at the site. Residents on adjacent properties will be given a list of trees they can plant near their property line that have relatively short roots, in an effort to prevent the problem of clogged drains from reoccurring.
The town will embed the issue of PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) and TDR (Transfer of Development Rights) in the new Comprehensive Plan. Matt Decker of the Land Trust will make a presentation describing the various options that can be included in a PDR program as well as each of their benefits and disadvantages.