Energy Task Force Continues Its Solar Panel Discussions

By Kait Bedell

The Energy Efficiency Task Force saw a solar panel presentation from Rachel Eades of ReVision Energy at the most recent June 16 meeting.
Eades is one of the few presentations that the board is to hear as they start the planning process for a potential energy program.
Eades gave the board some baseline information regarding the cost on solar panels and three-phase power and said that it generally costs about one million dollars to the mile.
A previous solar business had told the commission that an option for the town would be to put panels on the school buildings, which Eades also said would be “financially attractive” for the town.
According to Eades, panels work best when they are placed on a high electricity based area, making the town schools a candidate.
Eades asked the task force what their goals were moving forward.
“Our goal is to get to net zero eventually,” committee chair Debra Paul said. “I can’t speak for the schools, but I think it would be a good thing for the taxpayers if our buildings were net zero. I know that doesn’t cover oil or propane or anything like that but there are other options out there and we’re looking at those…”
Vice Chair Martha Smith said that the town had a relationship with revision energy in the past, which she said she believed involved Kevin Smith and the police department.
According to Smith, the town received a proposal from ReVision Energy and laid out the panels on the schools as well as came up with a plan in the fall of 2021, but they decided not to go through with it, which she is unsure why.
One potential reason Smith said they could have decided against the panels was because of possible visibility from the street. Smith said she thought they might have decided that town residents would not want to see the panels driving by.
Paul said that the task force would continue to hear presentations from other energy companies then compile data from each of the presentations and compare them.
The commission will then decide which company makes the most sense for the town and will move forward in the coming weeks through a workshop period.
Paul said that the commission will create a presentation to go forward with before the School Board and the Town Council in late summer or early falls to propose a solar panel plan.
In addition to these two presentations, the commission also plans to speak with the Capital Improvement Plan Board prior to their September and October meetings so that they can start factoring into their budgeting process the idea that the Energy Commission will be seeking a large budget within the next ten years.
The board reached the conclusion that the exact data and numbers will not be ready in time for the CIP this fall during the planning process, but that they will come before them again in the fall of 2023 with more specific information about their needed budget.
The next energy efficiency committee meeting will be held on July 14 in the Moose Hill Chambers at 7 pm.

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