New solar site proposed for Transportation Center

The Energy Committee is looking at siting solar panels on the Transportation Center.KRISTOPHER RADDER BRATTLEBORO REFORMER

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BRATTLEBORO — The Transportation Center is being looked at as another place solar panels could receive sunbeams.

"I know it's feasible," Ralph Meima, director of project development at Green Lantern Group, told the town's Energy Committee on Monday.

Meima believes the town's parking garage on Flat Street could host a 50-to-70-kilowatt project. He suggested the power generated could charge electric vehicles.

In his estimation, about three Tesla Model S cars could be charged each day.

"It would be much more in the summer and much less in the winter," said Meima.

A sub-committee is now exploring whether the town's fleet could include electric vehicles. Energy Committee Chairman Michael Bosworth said the solar project "might dovetail nicely with that." He planned on mentioning the prospect to the town manager.

Other ideas for the garage involve finding investors to sell the associated net-metering credits or forming a group of customers who want the credits for themselves.

Meima said most of Green Lantern's projects have been net-metered solar arrays. Schools, towns, businesses and home owners buy net-metering credits that go towards paying power bills at a discounted rates.

With tariffs on solar equipment recently approved by Trump and changes to net-metering rules approved in Vermont last year, the industry is changing.

"Things are very much in flux," Meima told the committee.

Meima lives in Brattleboro and serves on the town's finance committee. He also is a Town Meeting member. He said he was approached by Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland about the parking garage about four months ago.

"That made me curious," Meima told the Energy Committee. "I went up, took pictures and walked around. There are parking garages around that have solar up on top and very often it's on cantilevered arms. They're actually bolted into the concrete on the surface."

He estimates the project could cost $150,000 to $200,000 to construct.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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