Shoreham to decide on solar array buy-in; special town meeting set

SHOREHAM — Shoreham residents on Oct. 23 will be asked to invest in solar energy to help power — at a bargain — their town-owned buildings.
The Shoreham selectboard last month voted unanimously to hold a special town meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at which residents will asked to be spend up to $55,351 for as many as 94 solar panels at a 150-kW solar array on an acre at 869 Watch Point Road in Shoreham.
Selectboard Chairman Will Stevens said energy credits derived from power produced by the solar panels could cover as much as 90 percent of the annual electricity use at municipal buildings, including the town clerk’s office, Platt Memorial Library and wastewater treatment facility.
“It really is a good proposal,” Stevens said on Friday.
The Acorn Energy Cooperative is developing the solar array, dubbed “Acorn Energy Solar II.” It’s a project that’s been more than two years in the making. The Vermont Public Utilities Commission held a final review of the proposed array in September and is expected to issue its final decision this fall. The project must receive a Certificate of Public Good from the commission in order to proceed.
If permitted, the array will consist of 612 solar panels, each capable of harnessing 340 watts of energy. This group net-metered project would generate about 249,000 kilowatts hours annually, enough electricity to power about 30 to 40 homes, according to Acorn officials. The array is projected to have a useful life of at least 25 years.
“Solar II” is a hot ticket. All of the array panels were spoken for as of Friday, Acorn officials said.
This would be the second such solar project on Acorn Energy Co-op’s portfolio. The group in 2011 installed a 650-panel, 150-kilowatt solar array project on municipal land behind the Middlebury police headquarters off Lucius Shaw Lane.
A large portion of this latest Acorn project will be underwritten by individual local investors from Shoreham and surrounding communities who will buy panels in the array. These participants will receive net metering dollar credits applied each month to their Green Mountain Power electric bills based on the amount of electricity produced the previous month by the number of panels they have purchased.
The co-op has secured funding for over half of the project costs from Co-operative Insurance Companies of Middlebury, according to Acorn officials.
The proposal has already won support from the Shoreham’s planning commission and selectboard, as well as the Addison County Regional Planning Commission.
Shoreham’s Oct. 23 special town meeting will be held at the town offices. It will be a voice vote. Attendees will specifically be asked to move $40,000 from the community’s Building and Grounds Repair Reserve Fund to the general fund to bankroll $55,351 for the purchase of a least 61 panels, with the potential to acquire an additional 33.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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