Putney approves townwide solar project


PUTNEY -- The Selectboard has chosen Integrated Solar to build a new solar array that will provide all of the electricity needs for the town's buildings.

The board voted to go with Integrated Solar over Soveren, both local companies, at a special meeting Wednesday after talking with representatives from both companies over a series of public meetings.

The Selectboard took a while in making its decision because the proposals were so similar.

In the end, Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard said, Integrated Solar was chosen because it had a site already secured and would be able to move forward on the project.

"It is really exciting to actually be moving ahead with this," Stoddard said. "I did not hear any negative comments about this. I think it was clear that the town wanted to move ahead with this project."

Integrated Solar is building a 500 kilowatt solar array in Westminster, and Putney will get about 185 kilowatts to provide power for Town Hall, the fire station, garage, public library and wastewater treatment plant.

The town also expects to save about $4,000 every year by purchasing the solar power from the developers of the solar array.

Stoddard said the town's attorney will go through the contract and the town will sign the agreement with Green Lantern Capital, the investment firm that is providing the capital for the project.

The town will be purchasing the power from Green Lantern, which will own the equipment and maintain it, though the town has the option to purchase the equipment in the future.

Michael Whigham, head of system design and sales at Integrated Solar, said the company will look to partner with another municipality or school district for the extra power produced at the 500 kw Westminster site.

He said construction will start soon, though he added that the array probably will not produce electricity until next spring.

Whigham said Vermont is one of the few states that allows municipalities to be part of a group net metering agreement, and to allow towns and cities to be an energy off-taker in a large solar project.

Brattleboro has entered into a similar agreement and Putney now joins Brattleboro as one of the few municipalities in the state that has entered into the power purchase agreements to support alternative energy.

"We are anxious to get under way with his project. This is a good deal for everyone," Whigham said. "I think you will be seeing more and more of this happening down the road."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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