Brewster Weighs Solar Energy Plans, Cape Codder Article

Feb 06, 2011

By Rich Eldred

Original Cape Codder Article

Posted Feb 01, 2011 @ 08:10 AM BARNSTABLE —

The sun may not be doing much to warm Brewster this week but soon it could plunk cash into the town’s pockets and pump electricity through the wires. 

The town is pursuing solar energy proposals on several tracks.

Last Thursday the energy committee met to pursue two proposals for solar panel installations and leaned toward a solar array at the overflow parking area at Captains Course or open land alongside the water department. 
The potential value of the lease to Brewster will have to wait until a site and final plan is in place, perhaps by March.

“Then we can get the money together and can be breaking ground in July or August and we’ll have it done before the ground freezes again,” said Luke Hinkle of My Generation Energy.

My Generation Energy submitted a plan on behalf of Brewster Community Solar Garden of Yankee Drive in Brewster. They suggested three sites for a solar installation, including a town-owned gravel pit off Great Fields Road as well as the two mentioned above.

Project Navigator Ltd. on behalf of Chevron Energy Solutions, EnviroFinance Group, CETGO, Brinkerhoff Environmental Services and Sun Pods, Inc., submitted the other plan to the committee. That’s a national group and they offered to put solar panels at the transfer station. The selectmen currently have a subcommittee working on a similar plan with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative so this proposal took a back seat for the time being.

 Chris Powicki of the energy committee said it was difficult to evaluate the merits of the plans without knowing the outcome of the town’s twin turbine plan for Commerce Park. Both the turbines and transfer station plan are based on off-setting the town’s electric needs through a power purchase agreement and if the turbine plan is approved by the planning board Feb. 9, the need to do so would vanish. If it isn’t approved, the importance of Project Navigator’s plan rises but it still is in conflict with the CVEC proposal.

Hinkle opted to look elsewhere.

 “I believe those sites are even better,” he said. “The landfill is bigger but we didn’t need bigger, we want faster and cheaper.” 

His solar gardens would pay a lease fee to the town but all the power would go into the system to the benefit My Generation Energy. The installation at the sand pit could be between 56,000 and 280,000 square feet (if forest is cleared) and produce up to $537,500 in solar renewable energy certificate value. 

“What we like about the sand pit is it’s expandable,” Hinkle said. 

But the town uses the pit to store sand and topsoil.

 “I’d like to keep it in our back pocket for a while,” said department of public works chief Bob Bersin.

 There are revegetation requirements and possible abutters as well so the committee suggested looking at the other two sites instead. The golf course plan is for 60,000 square feet and would produce $172,500 in SREC value while the water department panels would cover an equal area and produce slightly less ($170,000) in credits for the solar garden.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend both sites as most advantageous to the Board of Selectmen.