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Lanesborough Considering Solar Energy Options

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
07:05AM / Friday, January 18, 2013
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Lanesborough is looking at town-owned land as a place for a solar array to reduce energy costs similar to projects in Pittsfield.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A town committee is working with consultants to find a suitable spot for a photovoltaic array to reduce the town's energy costs.

 The array is eyed to leverage energy credits to allow a company to develop an array that would help power town buildings.

"We're at the very initial stages of where we can put it and how we get it funded," said Robert Ericson, who sits on the committee with Jack Hickey, Gordon Zaks and Selectman Robert Barton. "It's to save money for the town."

The committee has held site visits with Adams-based Berkshire PhotoVoltaic Services and Hancock-based EOS Ventures to find suitable land.

"We're looking at primarily town-owned land," Ericson said. "We've looked at quite a few and we've had to determine that they weren't acceptable for one reason or another."

The site would need more than 10 acres of land, be away from wetlands and close to three-phase power, which is limiting their options. However, town-owned land on Prospect Street has shown to be a viable spot.

According to Town Administrator Paul Sieloff, the town purchased some 19 acres of land off Prospect Street in 2007 for $225,000. The idea was to create elderly housing there but the town has been unable to come up with the funds to do that.

On Monday, the Selectmen questioned if that location should be used for solar instead. They also questioned the use of the town landfill but believe it isn't close enough to three-phase power. With the idea being in its infancy, decided to wait for a report from the committee.

Ericson said the committee is "a ways away from being able to propose anything."

The energy committee is one of many committees the Selectmen have appointed. Barton has led the effort to create and task volunteers to look deeply into many of the towns operations to find ways to save money. Barton is hoping to get a head start on curbing what he sees is an imminent budget crisis.

Solar arrays have been announced in other Berkshire communities including Pittsfield and Adams. North Adams is also in the process of investigating solar options.

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