BATH — On Tuesday Bath voted to allow an amendment to a charter that limits the length of contracts the city can enter into, opening the door for the city council to explore environmentally friendly options for powering city facilities through solar power, which requires a 25-year contract. 

According to unofficial election results, Bath citizens voted in favor of the bond amendment in a 937-197.  

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. 

Under the approved 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. 

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. 

“This passage enables the council to assess the benefits of investing in green energy while reducing the city reliance on fossil fuels,” said City Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco. “Any decision going forward will be vetted by the council and must reduce expenses to the Bath taxpayer.”

“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 town wrote in a news release last month. “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.” 

While the city won’t know how much money it would pay annually or how much would be saved until contract conditions are established, Peter Owen, Bath’s city manager, said the city would not enter a contract if it would raise money for Bath taxpayers. 

“If we can lessen the cost of energy consumption and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels then that is a win-win that makes sense for the city to pursue,” said Owen. 

Bath voters also re-elected uncontested incumbents Eosco and Aaron Park to Councilor-at-Large and Ward 7, respectively. Jennifer Lynn DeChant, who ran unopposed, was elected to Ward 5. All will serve a three-year term. 

DeChant’s election to the council comes less than a year after she stepped down from the Legislature to pursue a career opportunity with a telecommunications and media company in February. Prior to her resignation from the Legislature, DeChant, had represented House District 52 since 2012. 

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