After discussion, trustees approve solar agreements

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BELLOWS FALLS — The Village Board of Trustees were divided over whether to approve two net metering solar agreements at Tuesday's trustee board meeting.

Peter Bergstrom, the Rockingham energy coordinator, recommended that the Village of Bellows Falls sign agreements with both Novus and Green Lateran Company. The village is already using 68 percent of the GLC array and 28 percent of the Novus array.

Trustee James McAuliffe said he was confused by the pricing of energy from the arrays. The agreements enable the village to pay their electric bills to the companies, which charge the village less than its original electric bills would charge. The savings for Novus's array is $4,560, while GLC's is $5,589. McAuliffe was confused as to why the prices were so similar because he thought that the village's energy output was going to be covered 68 percent by GLC and 28 percent by Novus. McAuliffe believed there was an error in one of the companies caculations.

"I think we have to get the right amount of juice out of this thing," McAuliffe said.

Bergstrom later explained that, after checking the numbers again, the similarity between the price savings was a coincidence. GLC is grandfathered into an old net metering program with greater credits, therefore its savings are greater.

McAuliffe also took issue with the contracts themselves. "The language is just lousy," he said. He was concerned with a passage that stated that, should a natural disaster strike, the companies have 180 days to repair the arrays before the village would be able to break their contracts. During the 180 days, the village wouldn't collect net metering credits.

"We want the credits," McAuliffe said.

Novus and GLC representatives explained that the credits couldn't be collected while the arrays were down, and that the village would just be paying its regular electric bill during this time. They also explained that it was in the companies best interests to get arrays back up and running as soon as possible.

McAuliffe wanted to table the approval of the agreements until another meeting.

"Let's face it, I wasn't in favor of it [the agreements] to begin with," he said.

Trustee President Myles Mickle asked the rest of the board if they wished to table the discussion or vote to approve the agreements. "I think it's a good opportunity that we're dragging our feet on," Mickle said.

Trustee Stefan Golec and McAuliffe voted to table the discussion, but everyone else voted to move forward, and the agreements were authorized.

The Board of Trustees also brought up parking regulation in downtown. Trustee Deborah Wright suggested that a citizen officer is appointed to hand out and monitor parking violations. Parking violations, the trustees agreed, don't seem to be monitored consistently because the police department doesn't have time.

"If you don't have a business in the village then I don't think you have any input on whether or not we a parking problem," Gaetano Putignano said.

He said his customers can't come to his store because people are parked out front and refuse to move their cars.

Cass Wright, Deborah Wright's husband, stood up and stated that he'd gladly take a parking enforcement officer position.

He volunteered to work for free for 90 days and then be reviewed by the board. If the board decides he's done a decent job, Wright said, he would ask to be paid a "very reasonable stipend," after the 90 days are up.

Town Manager Shane O'Keefe said he was enthusiastic about the offer and would check to make sure the village was able to legally take it up.

The trustees tabled the topic for the next meeting so that Police Chief Ron Lake could be present.

Harmony Birch can be reached at hbirch@reformer.com, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.

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