BOWDOINHAM — Bowdoinham selectmen have approved a solar power purchase agreement with Revision Energy, which will install a solar array on the public works garage if Bowdoinham residents approve the plan.

The proposal is contingent on approval at a town meeting, which may not be until the annual town meeting in June 2021.

There could be a special town meeting sooner to address other looming facilities needs in town said Wendy Rose, chair of the Community Development Advisory Committee. Her committee was charged in February with researching solar power options for the town

Rose said the agreement with Revision Energy would save the town around $1,000 a year and requires no upfront cost for the town. The town currently spends about $15,000 a year on power for its municipal buildings and street lights.

Over 20 years, the town would save an estimated $35,373 and would take over ownership of the solar array after 20 years, increasing savings, Rose said. She couldn’t provide an exact savings estimate after 20 years.

If the town chooses to purchase the solar array after five years at a cost of $131,000, the net savings would be $139,000 over 20 years. Rose said this would likely require the town to borrow money so the Community Development Advisory Committee isn’t recommending the town do this at this point.

“Bowdoinham is facing a lot of capital improvement needs right now and the committee was very sensitive to the fact that we’re going to be asked to handle a lot of things,” Rose said.

Revision Energy was the only contractor to respond to a request for proposals for solar power, Rose said.

There is a closing window of time for tax credits this year. Rose said investors get a 26% tax credit for solar array projects this year, and then the tax credit decreases next year. By approving Revision Energy’s proposal contingently, Rose said it allows the project investor to get the 26% tax credit.

Rose said these savings won’t lower the tax rate but are savings the town wouldn’t have otherwise.

“It’s solar,” she said. “It’s helping the environment. We’re doing our little bit for being that drop in the bucket… if we can contribute to the critical mass in turning to alternative (energy) sources, especially when it benefits the town.”

The public works garage is an ideal, because it doesn’t require any preparation, Rose said. The installation isn’t expected to take more than a month.

“And all this can be approved without any town budget outlay, and we can start saving,” Rose said.

Selectman Peter “Tony” Lewis was the sole opposing vote against the power purchase agreement. Attempts to reach him for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

 

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