BATH — A city charter amendment allowing the council to waive a limit on contract lengths goes before voters Nov. 5.

The amendment would allow the city to enter into a 25-year solar energy purchase agreement.

The charter currently limits such contracts on multi-year fund commitments for goods and services to five years. The intent was to prevent a city council from making decisions that would force the panel to uphold a commitment of funds five years down the road.

“We’re trying to … give the council the flexibility to enter into a contract for something longer than what’s written in the charter currently,” City Manager Peter Owen said in an interview Tuesday.

Under the proposed amendment, the council would review any contract running more than five years on a case-to-case basis, and six councilors would have to approve a waiver.

Long-term financing commitments like bonds, allowed to run up to 30 years, are a separate matter covered in a different part of the charter and would not be impacted by the amendment. “Bond payments and bank payments are not contracts, technically,” Owen said.

Bath has been in discussions with ReVision Energy on a potential solar energy power purchase agreement that would reduce electricity costs at city facilities and decrease carbon pollution. The city would contract with ReVision or an investor to buy solar-produced power at a lower rate.

“Adjusting to a shorter contract where the city pays higher rates for a shorter period of time would be unattainable for the city due to the increased costs for development of the project,” the administration said Monday in a news release. “The potential solar project will produce nearly (2 million) kilowatts of energy annually, offsetting the city’s consumption of electricity at all of its facilities and reducing costs substantially.”

“Support for this charter amendment is support for clean energy for Bath,” Chairwoman Mari Eosco said in the release. “The city is refocusing efforts to become more energy-efficient and climate aware. The possibility of an investment in solar power is a great example of how Bath can help mitigate our emissions for the foreseeable future.”

How much the city would pay annually, and exactly how much money the city would save, will be known once the contract conditions are established, Owen said.

“What we were negotiating at the time was clearly going to be a savings; that’s the only reason we would do this, is to save the taxpayer money,” Owen said.”It will be … something that is well-vetted and out in the open.”

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