Letter to the editor: Support Midd. solar bond plan

I am writing to urge a “YES” vote on Middlebury’s Aug. 31 bond vote related to the Bristol Community Solar Project (BCS). The town’s investment will purchase a minimum of 15% of BCS and will begin returning value in the form of credits on the town’s electricity bill when the project is commissioned in December.

The proposed investment is a good deal for Middlebury taxpayers. Unlike most investments that a town could make, say in hard infrastructure that depreciates over time, Middlebury’s BCS investment is estimated to have a positive return of about 7% over the first 25 years of the Bristol project. As electric rates increase, as they have invariably in the past, the value of the project’s net metering credits will also increase. Over those first 25 years, it is estimated that Middlebury will make back just over two times its initial investment, minus its relatively low financing costs.

Bristol Community Solar has other benefits. The project owners will be Vermont towns, residents and businesses and it will initially be managed by the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op. The project’s federal tax credits will be used by Co-operative Insurance Companies of Middlebury. The net metering credits will offset the project owners’ electricity use on their GMP bills (including Middlebury’s). BCS renewable energy credits will be assigned to GMP, which is required to retire them to help Vermont reach its renewable energy goals. Financing for Vermonters investing in BCS has been made available at very favorable rates by the National Bank of Middlebury, another valued local institution. In addition, the project was developed in concert with, and with the support of, the Bristol selectboard and its energy committee. Municipal taxes and rental payments will benefit Bristol’s bottom line as well.

BCS has received a Certificate of Public Good to construct a 500 kW array on the closed Bristol landfill. That site, which as a brownfields site, has only limited uses, and is well screened. The array will not be visible from any Bristol residence or from any town roads, other than the road leading to the landfill.

From my perspective, the project “wins” on many fronts. A “YES” vote on this ballot measure is a vote for savings to Middlebury, a vote for responsible, cooperative solar development, and a vote for a positive step in our climate fight. Please join me in this brighter future by voting “YES” on Aug. 31.

Peter Carothers


Editor’s note: Peter Carothers is on the Acorn Coop board.

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