Friday, March 14, 2014

Solar is an Option to Consider in Dover

DOVER -- Solar is a possibility that the School Board and town may be considering in months to come.

"If the town wants to go in on it with us, then all the town buildings and the school can all be a part of this," said Dover School Board Chairman Rich Werner. "You buy back the electricity that's created. Green Mountain Power powers it, then we'd have to pay a percentage."

On Dec. 10, he told the rest of the board that if the change to solar is made, the rough savings would be 50 cents on every dollar, or half the cost of oil.

Currently, Werner said the oil bill is $35,000 a year.

If the board chooses to go with an investor who would pay the upfront costs associated with installing solar panels, a deal could be made where the school would end up with the equipment once the investor was paid back.

Dover Selectboard Chairman Randy Terk sat in on the discussion. He said he had spent 14 years in the solar business and went on to explain that the deal likely would be what is known as a "true lease."

"The user would be considered the owner for tax purposes," continued Terk. "Those kinds of transactions are fairly common."

When asked about how many acres would be needed for the project, Werner said that if the buildings use 50 kilowatts of power, roughly four acres would be required for a facility.

"Behind the school was mentioned as a possibility," he added.

Werner called for the board to hear more about its options from representatives of different companies and to see how much power the town uses. If both entities needed more energy, then a bigger facility would be needed.

In October, Werner had discussed potential plans that could benefit both the school and community through improvements at the school. The first item on his list had been reviewing the heating system to see if a more economical system could be a better fit at the school. The next had been to survey the roof and get an opinion of its current condition.

Werner said if the roof is 30 years old, the board may opt for more energy efficient choices. He plans to use the School Board meeting on Jan. 14 to have representatives discuss available options.

Werner "the window for this type of stuff is closing in two years."

"The upfront credit is the big cash flow," said Terk, referring to deals involving solar. "The appreciation is an interest free loan ... When you sell it, you need to recapture it."

Werner said there were several contracts of its kind within the state.

"It sounds like something we can work on together," he continued. "$15,000 is a penny in the tax rate."


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