Vergennes nears deal on solar array; Ferrisburgh plan is called off

VERGENNES — While Vergennes nears a deal with Encore Redevelopment for a 150-kilowatt solar array near its city sewer plant, the Burlington firm has told the Ferrisburgh selectboard that further research showed its proposal for a 500-kw array on town-owned land was not feasible.
In Vergennes, aldermen and Encore could sign a deal as soon as this week for an array that could save the city at least $4,000 a year off its power bill for the next two decades.
The array would not provide power directly to Vergennes, but through a complex net-metering arrangement the city would receive credits on its Green Mountain Power bills that city officials said would total about $4,000 a year.
Encore head Chad Farrell said on Thursday he hopes that loose ends could be tied up in time for Vergennes aldermen at their Tuesday meeting to authorize City Manager Mel Hawley to sign a contract with his firm for the sewer plant array.
“That would be ideal, and that would be the objective,” Farrell said.
If Encore and Vergennes reach an agreement this week, Farrell said a permit could be obtained in time for construction to begin in about two months, with a target completion date of August.
Mayor Bill Benton said he, Hawley and council members Renny Perry and Lynn Donnelly reviewed model contracts on Wednesday and are recommending some changes that they hope Encore and its financial backers — those backers will reap tax credits by financing the project — can accept.
Benton said the clauses have to do with array maintenance and whether such a contract can be confidential.
“(They) will protect us in some respects,” he said.
Benton said the city officials don’t believe the changes are major, and they hope both the full council and Encore can agree on Tuesday or shortly thereafter.
“We don’t think it will ruin the deal,” he said. “If they agree to this, it will be signed very quickly.”
It was Encore’s proposal for a 500-kw array on 3.5 acres of Ferrisburgh’s 35-acre parcel on the city line that drew city officials’ attention to the possible benefits of doing business with the Burlington firm.
But while Vergennes and Encore are in promising talks, Farrell confirmed last week what he told the Ferrisburgh selectboard in April: Further research into a project that could have netted the town close to $500,000 over 20 years did not go well.
Farrell said to make the project work, Encore had to find customers for all the power the array would produce. But even with Ferrisburgh town offices, the public works building, Ferrisburgh Central School and the town’s share of the Vergennes Union High School power bill, the demand wasn’t quite there.
“It was going to be close, and we were hoping to find some additional off-takers (customers),” Farrell said. “It became sort of a challenge.”
Encore’s financial partners also prefer fewer customers, Farrell said, and became less interested in a more complex project involving not only the town and the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union, but also possibly other entities. 
“It was a little bit more difficult from a contract standpoint in terms of the contract financing,” he said. “The contract financers would much prefer to have a single contractor.”
Farrell remains convinced that “it’s a good site for a solar project, quite frankly,” and said Encore had no problem working with a town selectboard that was at first slow to embrace the concept.
“These projects are new and somewhat complex, so we understand it’s going to take a little bit of time … for any kind of entity to digest the information,” Farrell said.  
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

Share this story:

More News
US Probation Office Uncategorized

US Probation Office Request for Proposals

US Probation Office 2×1.5 062024 RFP

Middlebury American Legion Uncategorized

Middlebury American Legion Annual Meeting

Middlebury American Legion 062024 1×1.5 Annual Meeting

Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Share this story: