City moves closer to solar array

VERGENNES — Vergennes aldermen on Feb. 19 approved a new letter of intent between the city and Encore Redevelopment that focuses on putting a solar array on a small city-owned parcel near the Canal Street Vergennes-Panton Water District office.
The proposed deal with Encore, a Burlington firm specializing in alternative energy projects, for a 149-kilowatt array would be for what Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley called an “after-the-meter” arrangement. Power produced by the solar panels on a knoll behind and to the right of the water district office would go to the grid, not directly to city buildings.
Vergennes would then receive a credit toward its power bills that Hawley pegged at about $4,100 in the first year, an amount that would rise over 10 years at a rate equal to the rate of increase in the city’s power bills.
The deal, according to emails between Hawley and Encore, also would allow for the city to purchase the array after seven years.
Hawley said the city is also still talking to Suncommon, a Waterbury firm, about a smaller array close to the city’s sewer plant that would provide power directly to that facility. That possibility, according to Hawley and an email he sent to Suncommon, at least in part depends on whether Encore would need land next to the sewer plant for its proposed array.
City officials had previously hoped to find land for a larger, 500kw array, but Encore could not find a suitable site in the city. Issues also arose because the power the larger array would produce exceeded the city’s annual power needs, a situation that would complicate the tax-credit sales that are key to funding from Encore’s end.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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