BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Selectboard has agreed to enter the town into a 20-year contract to purchase solar power from a photovoltaic system which will be built in the coming year.
The board voted 5-0 to enter into the agreement with Integrated Solar of Brattleboro and Green Lantern Capital of Waterbury to provide the town with 500 KW of solar energy.
The project could be the first of even more solar projects, as the board also authorized the Brattleboro Energy Committee to look into other projects if this one is successful.
Green Lantern Capital is a finance and development consulting firm that helps companies, municipalities and property owners with their renewable energy projects.
Under terms of the deal Selectboard members approved at their meeting Tuesday, Integrated Solar will build a photovoltaic system with capital raised by Green Lantern.
The town will purchase the electricity and then sell tax credits back to the investment firm at a discount, saving the town between $16,000 and $18,600 annually over the life of the 20 year contract.
The board enthusiastically embraced the idea, with board member John Allen saying he saw no down side to the deal.
The board agreed in December 2012 to seek partners for the photovoltaic system and four proposals came in.
Integrated Solar has not yet announced where the new solar system will be installed, but getting the town to agree to the terms of the contract represents an important step toward developing the solar system.
At the board meeting Energy Committee Chairman Les Humphreys explained that a municipality is a good customer because it represents a stable and steady need for power as well as a reliable source of income to pay the monthly electric bills.
Humphreys said the contract did not pose any financial risk to the town.
Even if the company goes bankrupt and the deal falls through, the town would simply go back to purchasing the power as it does now.
Selectboard member David Schoales encouraged the rest of the board to be aggressive in its support of large solar power projects.
Schoales said the town could create partnerships with other large energy consumers like hospitals in creating and supporting future projects.
At the meeting Tuesday the board also declined to adopt a new single day liquor permit which would allow book store and gallery owners to serve beer and wine during events.
This is the second conversation the board had about the new permits, which were recently approved by the Legislature.
Under the new rule a gallery or book store owner would be able to apply to the town for a single day liquor license.
At the meeting Town Clerk Annette Cappy said she did some research on the new license and said there were still some questions about them.
Cappy said the new law fails to adequately define "gallery" and she said that during Brattleboro’s monthly Gallery Walk just about any storefront in town would be able to apply for the license and serve alcohol.
The town has received a few inquiries about the new one-day license, Cappy said.
Board member Ken Schneck said he came to the meeting with an open mind but agreed with Cappy that the new law was too vague.
Schneck said gallery and book store owners can already hire a caterer with a liquor license to serve, and he said that option was probably safer and more appropriate anyway.
Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein was the only member supporting the new rule, saying that if the Legislature approved the one-day licenses Brattleboro should be able to find a way to appropriately issue and regulate them.
The board voted 4-1 to put off a decision until the Legislature clarifies the rule.
The board members scheduled a meeting for April 11 to discuss their goals for the coming year.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.