Blue Wave principals Eric Graber-Lopez, left, and John DeVillars made a presentation to the City Council and other city boards on Tuesday at the reguest of Mayor Richard Alcombright.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city could have a 4.6 megawatt photovoltaic system in operation by next fall, if permitting runs smoothly.
That was the message from principals of Blue Wave Capital, John DeVillars and Eric Graber-Lopez, who answered questions at an unusual public hearing with the City Council on Tuesday.
Members of the council, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Airport Commission were joined by citzens in questioning the solar project, which is expected to cut the city's electrical costs by half.
"When the switch is flipped the city has the opportunity to save significant money over the next 20 years," said Mayor Richard Alcombright. "We have only to benefit with zero cost to the city."
The project is similar to the one in Adams, in which the developer installs and operates the system (bearing the full cost), the utility buys the power and the municipality receives "energy credits" and a set rate. The energy generated should cover the city's needs in all municipal buildings, schools, recreational facilities and streetlights at a projected savings of $11 million over 20 years.
Among concerns raised by officials were guarantees in costs, site placement and responsibilities of both the city and the developers.
The power purchase agreement includes a 20-year contract, at which time the city can buy the system, extend the agreement or ask the company to remove the system and make any remediations necessary. The city also has the option to purchase the system at the seven-year date.
Alcombright said the city has chosen not to tax the installations and instead take the full advantage in energy savings, set at 7.5 cents a kilowatt.
DeVillars said the system would be maintained throughout the agreement and that the city should not see significant reductions in power generation.
"The panels have an amazing shelf life, 20 years from now they'll be generating 80 percent of the energy they'd be producing today," he said. "We'll be obligated to remove the system if the city doesn't want to buy it."
In response to questions, DeVillars and Graber-Lopez said that the federal energy credits and depreciation schedules, intregal parts of the financial package, are guaranteed for projects developed by 2016.
"Our incentives are perfectly aligned with the city," said Graber-Lopez, who added that the city's saving money was dependent on the generation of energy, which is how Blue Wave makes money.
The system will be installed at four sites: Drury High School, the landfill, the old waste-water treatment plant and the Harriman & West Airport.
The energy produced from the system will be equivalent to ...
Powering 460 homes
Planting 80,000 trees
Removing 7,500 cars from road
Saving $11 million
There was particular concern over the panels being installed at the airport because of glare and wetlands.
"Solar is quite modest in terms of its impact," said DeVillars, relative to reflection from parking lots and trees, because they are designed to absorb sunlight. Solar panels are popping up at airports around the country and the Federal Aviation Administration has developed guidelines for their installation.
Graber-Lopez said the panels are currently designed outside the wetlands buffer zones but that there was room to adjust to Conservation Commission permitting.
Airport neighbor David Chenail expressed disappointment that the land would not be used for airport expansion and expressed concern that the solar array would lower his property values.
"I wish that land was going to better use than solar panels," said Chenail. "No one will want to build a house where I am and look at solar panels ... The airport land is beautiful and my land is more beautiful."
Resident Robert Cardimino asked if the land at the former waste-water plant would be better used for industrial. Alcombright said he would not support that because it would require a railroad crossing at prohibitive cost, and put an industrial operation in people's back yards.
Councilor John Barrett III agreed, saying explorations of putting a assisted living facility there was stymied by the rail issue. He was more concerned about the project being sidelined by National Grid, which has to hook the system in.
"They are holding these projects up all over the state and it's a disgrace," said Barrett, referring to National Grid and other utilities. He asked if the fall timeline and the financing would hold.
Graber-Lopez said they were aware of the problem and had designed the arrays to be in tune with the already installed electrical wiring.
"National Grid is overwhelmed with interconnect applications," he said. "We are in close communication with them but it is always an issue to interconnect."
Talks between Blue Wave and the city have been ongoing for 18 months; the project is about to enter the permitting phase, which should be completed by mid-June.
DeVillars said he and Graber-Lopez would be speaking to pertinent officials but also would be available for speaking with residents.
"We are committed to working with neighbors to mitigate any visual impacts," he said. "We will be talking to anyone who wants to talk to us."
► The council approved the transfer of $12,000 from the land sale account to purchase a house at 154-156 Protection Ave. with the intention of demolishing it and either straightening the corner or using it for parking for the Alcombright Athletic Complex. Barrett asked if the agreement could be renegotiated to include the demolition to avoid prevailing wage. Alcombright said he would check.
► Heard an update on the bring-your-own-bottle policy that has been stewing for nearly a year. Councilor Keith Bona said the city solicitor had been asked to develop and ordinance and provided the specific bullet points.
► The mayor addressed the decrease in parking revenue brought forward last summer by resident Mark Trottier, who chastised the council for failing to take action. Alcombright said the parking enforcement would fall to the new commissioner or police chief and that the city was looking into updating its dated parking meters.
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I heard a very disturbing comment at the council meeting last night. Unfortunately for lisa blackmner it was caught on tape. When the final open Forum speaker was walking to the mic she was overheard saying "Retard" in reference to him
I am calling for her immediate resignayion. Editor no matter how we differ on issues this behavior is unacceptable and she should be ashamed of herself. I am sure she is sorry.....sorry she got caught. Check out the tape. Hear is a story for you
With the money saved on power...would it be possible to finally have the library and steeples "spot lit" in the evenings (say 6PM-11PM or so)? Would it be possible to have the solar array company install solar spotlights on the steeples and library? Adams city hall looks amazing lit up at night. Our steeples and library deserve the same notice and treatment.
Editor: I do not believe the utilities are against solar projects; WMECo, for example, has invested a great deal of money into them. However, there apparently have been delays in getting arrays hooked in. Let's remember, the utilities have been socked by earthquakes, tornadoes and storms over the past year. It may be just a matter of priorities. But we'll find out.
My wife and I heard the same background comment and thought we must have been mistaken. It sounded like Councilor Blackmere but we could not be sure. That type of comment is unacceptable from anyone, much less an elected official who knows they are being broadcast. People have lost their jobs for less. If that's her opinion of the people she represents then she should step down.
I too heard her make that comment and I am glad that someone else did too. I was watching w/ my husband last night and had to ask him if she just referred to the gentleman as a "retard" as he was approaching the microphone and he said yes I think she did. I believe I then heard Mrs. Kirsch agree with her. Play the tape!!
I think by the same standard, Mr. Cardimino should either issue a formal apology or face litigation, as he ended his usual ranting with personal attacks on the woman who is charged with theft from the skating rink. She has not been convicted, she has not gone to trial, and he essentially said she was and then went on to claim she is getting unemployment, and said, "Who said crime doesn't pay?" If I were her attorney, I'd sue him immediately. Whether she ends up being found guilty or not, it was highly inappropriate for him to say what he said during a public meeting. This is exactly why the likes of him and Trottier should be muffled. They add nothing.
Wow A home within 2 blocks of a school in a noce area of town could not sell for the price of $ 29900. Granted it needs work but really $29900 and it would not sell. So now they are going to sell to the city for $12500. WOW That tells a lot about the value of homes in Norht Adams. This is a city moving forward ???
The mayor is passing the parking meter issue on to someone who does not exist yet ??? Is the city ever going to have a leader ????
Talk about passing on . The B Y O B gets passed again. Give it to John and get it done.
Totally agree with (Fact), so tired of her unprofessionalism, rude comments, and sighs. Apparently, she doesn't care that she is miked. She needs to resign in the best interest of the city, as she is disgrace as a councilor. Ms. Blackmer is not working in good faith, nor in the best interest of the citizens of N.A.
Councilor Blackmere has a tendency to mutter things under her breathe often at the meetings. I watch them at home and with the new microphone set up, she can be heard and understood very clearly, even if the camera isnt on her. It is a sad state of affairs when a concerned citizen gets up to speak during their alloted segment and derogatory mutterings are said outloud by some of our public representatives (it is not just Mrs Blackmere that says things. Go to NBCTC and listen for yourself. Isnt technology great...
It was Marie Harpin that agreed with her. Kirsch isn't in the seat next to Blackmer, Harpin is. Harpin should be double ashamed: she spent her career supposedly helping the mentally handicapped. Not so much, I guess. Blackmer should be ashamed of herself. It was very clear on the tape.
Fact I agree with you. My If this is true then councilor Blackmer should resign immeditely. If the mayor and council president allows this then they should also resign. This not only shows her feelings about anyone that dares to speak but also her lack of feelings for people that are mentality challenged. This is an embarrassment for the whole city.
Nope Bob C. does not owe anyone anything. It was reported that the woman admitted to taking $ 5000 dollars. That sir makes her a thief any way you put it. Bob did not steel anything. The only thing he is guilty of is telling the truth.
Sorry, Dope, but as the editor pointed out, no such article exists. She is ALLEGED to have stolen the money, and until and unless she is convicted, she is innocent... maybe you forgot the whole "innocent until proven guilty" part of our legal system. And my point is it's none of his or anyone else's business if she gets unemployment - the council doesn't regulate that, the city doesn't regulate it - it's a state issue. His comment about "who says crime doesn't pay" was classless and only proves he does nothing but tear people down to make himself feel good. Sad, very sad. It does not belong on the council floor. And I do hope her attorney was watching. He can bring his headphones to his lawsuit.
Editor I am sorry she admitted to taking $ 500 not $ 5000 . If I took $ 5.00 from your wallet and the next week handed you back the same amount what would call me ?? I am sure the thought of calling me a thief would never cross your mind. Bull .
Didn't Cardimino say after he lost miserably in the election the people don't want to hear him and he wasn't coming to meetings anymore? He's either a liar or lost his short term memory.
If Blackmer did say that she should issue an apology but it's not illegal and a resignation is not necessary. The voters can decide that at the next election. When long time North Adams city councilor Louis Sinclitico called a city hall worker a Jew during a meeting he was ousted at the next election.
Just called N B C T C for a copy of the tape for the council meeting. Guess What ?? It seems they only have about 3/4 of the meeting on tape. I was told that something happened to the equipment and it stopped working during the last part of the meeting. O.K WOW !!! What a coincidence ??? Lucky for someone.
Attn Citizens of North Adams. Did anyone tape the or DVR the full council meeting last night? If so please post to you tube so we can prove to the world what was said. If you do please post here to let us know
1. Why has this relevant artical already been removed form top headlines of home page? 2. North Adams has the most comical form of city government in the area. 3. Blackmere has been a joke for sometime and her on air antics have been rude to say the least. Thank you citizens of North Adams for creating this mess - at least those of you who feel that we are on the road to change. We should all be proud of this great city we are creating. JB3 in 2014! Time for serious change!
Political arrogance at it's finest. Step down Ms. Blackmere, all these viewers can't be wrong in what they heard. I know what I heard. Anyone having a copy please bring it forward it is worth it's weight in gold. And, thank you Ms. Daniels for attempting to bury the story.
Ms. Daniels why isn't this article on the top. The wild oats article has zero comments. And, the Nuciforo bus tour is old news with very few comments. You buried this under more articles, in an effort to hide it. You mean to tell us with 24 comments, and a recent article from todays stories it is not a top read news item? Plz?
We don't need your bull, our cow died.
Editor: The articles drop as new ones are loaded. That's the way the website works, like it's always worked. The story appears under most comments. It will no doubt rise to the top of the most viewed, which has nothing to do with comments.
Soap, your comments regarding Mr. Cardimino are all washed up, and way off base. Isn't one able to change his/ her mind. In your lifetime, have you ever changed your mind? I realized that his voice does matter and is important as a tax payer of this trouble little city. Didn't Council President Bloom first state he would not seek re-election. He indeed changed his mind, didn't he? That his one's god given right, as an American. So, please try and respect the rights of others opinions.
Looks like a win win situation for the city. I only wish they could stay away from the airport, and Mr. Chenials property as I would hate to see the beautification of the land/ Mountain area compromised. How about putting more panels all over the roof tops of city buildings, such as other schools. Or possibly reaching out to the public for use of land in remote areas. The trade off could be reduced rates of kilo watt hours to those who lease out land, with a 7 year opt out such as the language stated for the city just a thought.
Tammy apparently doesn't want us kids talking about Blackmer's slur anymore. Now SHE is taking the position that Mike Chalifoux, who said publically on Slngshot last night he would swear to it in a court of law, that he heard Lisa use that term, that mike could not have heard it because she didn't hear it. The arrogance is unreal
Editor: No, I asked how he could hear it when nobody else did. And anymore comments along this line will and are being deleted. This article is about the solar array so let's keep to the topic at hand.
Should I go on attack, stay strictly on track,
Or launch mindless tirade in verse?
For to flaunt all this "dumb"-ness reveals mental numbness
That just gets increasingly worse.
O little town of Tunnelville, where the reptiles slither and slide...
Should such exist, as integrity, the snakes would have nowhere to hide.
All the facets to be discussed of the undisputably dropdead NET LOSER PROPERTIES of solar generated electricity, yet the forum gets sidetracked -- hijacked by pettiness.
Wading through the less-than-informed (like ignorant?) reporting on such projects as these, it has never been made clear (deliberately?) upon whom the actual costs of the subsidization fall that makes this whole dog and pony show possible.
It is, of course, and should be clear: It is Jane and Joe Taxpayer-Ratepayer -- nation wide.
Does this project qualify as cogeneration? If so, how is the power generated and fed into the grid credited to little NAdams? Unless the status has changed since the last time I looked, cogens are PAID for their generated power according to AVOIDED COSTS of the utility, not at the prevailing consumer rates. 7½¢/kWh is, when all is figured in, about HALF the rate paid by the average household in NoBerk. Did the reporter mean to state that 7½¢/kWh is the rate RECEIVED by the city for solar power produced -- during bright daylight hours, of course.
Show the public the fee structures! How in the world can valid assessments be made without accurate information?
Reporting painfully incomplete (or maybe just deliberately misleading?) information has become prevalent; it is, when taken in by the ignorant, perhaps worse than NO reporting.
At least the well meaning (given the benefit of the doubt) tree hugger opportunists are making a buck -- at our expense.ZNW9