Boston energy firm to make its case for taking over solar projects in Lee, Lenox
Another Boston-based energy firm is eyeing the planned municipal solar installations in Lenox and Lee.
Representatives of e-NRG Power LLC are scheduled to meet this afternoon with town officials from both communities, making a pitch to replace Broadway Electric Co. Inc. as the lead developer of the combined $17.5 million construction of solar arrays.
The public meeting will be held 2 p.m. at Lee Memorial Town Hall.
The Eagle reported a month ago Broadway was shutting down due to unknown financial problems. A separate Broadway Renewable Strategies, with some ownership in common, has the actual separate contracts for Lee and Lenox to do the work, according to the towns' consultant on the solar projects.
E-NRG Power is supposedly looking to buy out the contracts, ones Lee and Lenox officials want honored to a tee.
"It will have to be the exact same deal or it won't fly -- that's what I'll recommend to [our] town," said Thomas Wickham, chairman of the Lee Energy Efficiency Committee. "We're not desperate; we're not taking any company that comes along."
However, the solar installations must be operating and interconnected with Western Massachusetts Electric Co. by a state-imposed June 30 deadline so the projects qualify for money-saving energy credits. Consultant Beth Greenblatt said last month Broadway Renewable Strategies has legal contracts with Lee and Lenox that would be binding on any lender or other company that might take over the projects.
"The best path is to have Broadway sell to a company that can make the projects happen and we don't have to start from square one," said Lenox co-interim Town Manager Jeffrey Vincent.
Under the current contracts, Broadway was to assume all construction costs, consultant and other fees, an arrangement the towns want to continue with the replacement solar energy firm.
Lenox's contract, at a $5.7 million cost to Broadway, is to install solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant on Crystal Street in Lenox Dale, and later at the old landfill on nearby Willow Creek Road, a separate $10 million deal yet to be concluded pending environmental studies this spring.
The first phase of the Lenox project, producing nearly 1.2 million kilowatt hours a year, would save taxpayers an estimated $355,000 by the year 2034.
The $11.8 million municipal solar project for Lee could save taxpayers a total of $880,000 over the next 20 years through energy-credit reimbursements from WMECO. Three solar arrays on town-owned property would produce 2.9 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.
The sites are on 4.5 acres of a 171-acre parcel off Stockbridge Road, the former town landfill off Woodland Road and in front of Lee's wastewater treatment plant on Route 102, which would feed power directly to that facility. The town government hopes to reduce its $414,000 municipal electrical bill paid to WMECO each year.
Gov. Deval Patrick has set a statewide goal of 1,600 megawatts produced by solar energy by 2020. So far, 425 megawatts of solar panels have been installed.
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