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The Selectmen said they would put another solar project to a vote if they can't complete one by the end of the state program.

Lenox Selectmen Hope to Resurrect Solar Array Project

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
10:18PM / Thursday, March 20, 2014
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Environmental issues was a reoccurring theme at Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting.

LENOX, Mass. — The idea of a solar array at the wastewater treatment center isn't dead yet, despite multiple setbacks.

The town previously had reached a contract with Broadway Renewables to construct the array. But the company went out of business, leaving the town with signed contracts but no project.

Selectman Ken Fowler said Wednesday night that the town's Solar Committee talked with another company, e-NRG, which reported that the proposed array would have to be significantly reduced because of the layout of the land.

"Our site was never fully realized by Broadway," Fowler said.

The town was hoping to get the project up and running under a state solar renewable energy credits program that expires at the end of June. Fowler said the town is now reaching out to another company, Bluewave, which was interested in the project before, as a possibility to move it forward.

Fowler added that another state incentive program is expected to replace the expiring one, which will still provide enough for a company to make a profit. If the town needs to have a company under that program, the Selectmen will likely have to bring the proposal back to voters.

"We may be able to salvage this somehow," Fowler said. "My focus is on getting the solar project together."

Fowler also clarified the position the town's environmental committee is taking on a plastic bag and Styrofoam ban. Fowler previously said the committee is watching how the ban was affecting Great Barrington. On Wednesday, he reassured the Selectmen and residents watching on public access television that the ban is still a "top priority" for the committee.

In other environmental news, Floyd Tuler, of the Laurel Lake Preservation Association, said the annual drawdown seems to be reducing the population of the invasive zebra mussels. For the last three years, the lake has been drawn down three feet during the winter to kill the invasive species.

"We should continue to do these drawdowns. It's making a clear impact on the population," Tuler told the Selectmen. "There are some indications that the amount of larvae found in the water is less. So perhaps there are fewer zebra mussels in the lake."

Tuler also reported that the group has not found any evidence that the drawdowns were affecting the snail population or the wetlands, both of which were concerns when they began.

In other business, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Chris Long reported that the Fire Department, which operates the ambulance service, is considering changes to the billing process. The changes include simplifying the type of charges from an "al a carte" service to just two types of billing — one for basic life support and one for advanced life support.

"These bundled strategies are now the industry standard," Long said. "I think this could bring us some very needed revenue."

Coupled with that, Long asked the town to support a policy he created for those who can't pay. Previously, unpaid bills were handled on a case-by-case basis, and now Long says he wants to create a committee to set up payment plans.

"I think it is important to have a policy in place so we can treat everyone objectively," he said.

The ambulance service has again set all-time highs with call volume, Long said, with more than 1,000 calls last year.


Tags: ban,   lakes, ponds,   plastics,   solar array,   zebra mussels,   

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