Wilmington considers solar pitch

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WILMINGTON — A solar company hopes to study using an old landfill in a way that could benefit homeowners and smaller businesses.

"I don't think there's a lot of land available so we would be talking about a smaller array," said Ralph Meima, director of project development for Green Lantern Capital, at a Select Board meeting on June 21.

He wants the Select Board to sign a letter of intent so his group can look at the potential for a "community solar" project at the closed and capped landfill at the town's transfer station on Higley Hill Road.

An array for community solar differs from one designed for investors because "off-takers" could include a group of different owners, according to Meima. Panels are purchased for houses and small businesses rather than bigger groups or institutions. The net-metering credits from each panel will allow the owners to save money because they are purchasing the credits at a rate lower than the power company charges for power.

"It's an attractive way for folks to go solar and do it in an affordable way," said Meima, who estimated the 120 or 150 kilowatt array in Wilmington would cost between $500,000 and $600,000 to build.

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He said he was interested in having the town act only as a landlord, knowing that Wilmington already signed up for net-metering credits for a portion of its projected power usage in municipal buildings through a large solar project to be built on the closed landfill in Brattleboro that is owned by the Windham Solid Waste Management District.

Interim Town Manager Gretchen Havreluk encouraged Meima to be "a little more specific" about the property when meeting with the board later on about the letter of the intent. She acknowledged that might be difficult.

"But as much information as you can provide would be totally beneficial for the Select Board and yourself," Havreluk said.

Green Lantern also "has a lease in place" with the town of Newfane for a capped and closed landfill, Meima said. His group hopes to get a permit soon for a smaller array in Guilford.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.


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