Putney board debating solar project


PUTNEY -- The Selectboard is still cloudy on a proposed municipal solar system that could potentially provide all of the town's energy needs.

The board met Wednesday with the intention of making a decision on the photolvoltaic system that could eventually save the town more than $4,000 a year on its energy costs.

The board has two proposals before it, one from Integrated Solar and one from Soveren, both local businesses that install the solar arrays.

But the proposals are so similar that the board is having a hard time choosing a project, even though representatives from the companies say they want to start as soon as possible to complete the work this year to take advantage of the tax credits that could go away next year.

There is an approximately $500 difference between the two plans.

Selectboard Chairman Josh Laughlin was not at the meeting Wednesday and the other two board members said they wanted the full board to decide which proposal to choose.

Both proposals would provide the town up to 150 kilowatts of electricity, though the biggest difference was in how the contract between the town and the investors would be drawn up.

Michael Wingham of Integrated Solar said his company partners with Green Lantern Capital to fund the project.

Green Lantern Capital, Wingham said, requires that the town sign a 20 year contract with the additional option of re-signing every five years.

Soveren founder Peter Thurell said his investors, LN Consulting of Winooski, Vt., was not asking the town for any commitment.

Thurell said the town would be able to get out of the deal at any time, an arrangement that Selectboard member Stephen Hed said seemed "too good to be true."

Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard was also suspect of Thurell's claim, which Stoddard said was a new development that Laughlin was not aware of.

"It makes me uncomfortable to not have a contract," Stoddard said. "I question it."

Thurell said if the town pulled out of the deal he would have no problem finding another entity to purchase the power, and so his investors were comfortable moving ahead without a long-term contract.

The Selectboard might schedule a special meeting before the next planned meeting on Sept. 10 to make a decision.

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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