Selectmen table solar lease vote until next meeting

Solar facility would generate $3.24 million over 20 years

By Shaun Moriarty
Citizen Chronicle Writer

DUDLEY — Selectmen appear poised to support hosting solar panels atop the town’s former landfill, but they have opted to take some time for due diligence.

Town Administrator Greg Balukonis last night recommended the Dudley Board of Selectmen engage with Ameresco Inc. of Framingham for the construction and operation of a 2.2-megawatt facility off of Indian Road. Mr. Balukonis said the proposed facility would be built at the developer’s expense and generate $3.24 million for the town over a 20-year period. He explained that $2.7 million would be collected in lease payments while $540,000 would come in the form of a payment in lieu of tax payments, often referred to as a PILOT agreement.

While Mr. Balukonis said Ameresco has put forth “a good proposal and a good deal for the town,” Selectman Paul Joseph urged the board to take its time to further review the matter.

“As a matter of course a major project that we get tonight, even though we knew it was coming, we should always have a chance to review it before we vote on it,” Mr. Joseph said. “It’s a good practice for us to be in.”

Mr. Balukonis advised selectmen that additional time would not be problematic due to a 90-day window built in to the proposal process.

Ameresco is one of six companies to have submitted proposals to town officials for a solar lease agreement on the former landfill site. Mr. Balukonis said Ameresco has “an excellent track record” and has built 12 solar facilities atop capped landfills. He explained construction of the facility would be done in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the liner of the capped landfill would not be compromised in the process. Liability insurance protection is a component of the proposal in the event of problems stemming from the construction.

While the solar facility would generate power, the town is seeking only money in the deal.

“There is no power purchase agreement,” Mr. Balukonis said. “Revenue is what we were trying to accomplish through this and now that’s what we’ve done.”

If approved, the project would be completed by June 30, 2019, and the property would remain under the town’s control at the end of the 20-year lease. An extension to the lease could be negotiated at that time, officials said.

The funds collected through the agreement would not be earmarked for a specific budget line item or expense.

“All of the money will be in the form of revenue to the town’s general fund beginning fiscal year 2020,” Mr. Balukonis said.

The item was tabled and will be revisited at the next regularly scheduled selectmen meeting on April 9.


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