The Derry Town Council was recently tasked with deciding whether or not to allow for the implementation of a new solar energy panel system at the Transfer Station during their last meeting on December 19.
Based off the goals and desires of both the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) and Net Zero Committee to provide Derry with clean energy, the two have been working throughout 2017 to establish a solar system somewhere in Derry to promote this goal, amongst other reasons. As such, Michael Fowler, the Director of Public Works, alongside Jeff Molton, Chair of the Net Zero Committee, presented a resolution for the introduction of one such system at the town’s Transfer Station.
Asking for three hundred thousand dollars to kick start the project, the system would consist of two hundred and forty ground mounted, three hundred and sixty watt panels. Insured to last at least twenty five years, the system would produce roughly fifty thousand kilowatts per hour (kWh) for the Transfer Station and another one hundred and five thousand, two hundred kWh for the Wastewater Treatment plant.
However, Molton admitted that energy production could possibly vary depending on weather patterns, but also noted that the projected amount of production came from analyzing the last twenty five years worth of prior weather patterns
“It’s a proven production estimate that’s been validated many times,” Molton noted.
Finally, on top of receiving three thousand, eight hundred and eighty dollars annually via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and causing no impact to the tax rate, the resolution asserted that avoid over twenty thousand dollars worth of costs annually within just over nine years.
The council seemed rather split on what to do with the resolution. Councilor James Morgan did voice his concerns over the additional fiscal issue of forty four thousand dollars spent on interest over the next ten years on the project, but still seemed supportive of the system.
“I have no fundamental issue with the proposed plan, but I would like to see the funding mechanism looked at”, Morgan stated.
Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores, on the other hand, opposed the idea. While thanking the EEAC and Net Zero Committee for their hard work, she did not see how the high initial costs and length of time prior to the payback could be justified.
Council Chair Joshua Bourdon, who also holds a spot on the Net Zero Committee and has been highly supportive of the project, implored the council to approve the resolution, noting that not only would this chip away at taxes and other costs in Derry, but having this more modernized energy system would also set a great example for local students looking to pursue technology or science careers.
However, not enough members of the council supported Bourdon’s pleas, as Councilors Richard Tripp, Charles Foote and Katsakiores voted against the resolution due to fiscal reasons and concerns over the solar systems themselves, while Councilors Neil Weatherbee, Brian Chirichiello, Morgan and Bourdon voted for it, causing the resolution to fail four votes to three.