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Lanesborough Advised Solar Array Ownership Better Model

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Mark Guilds, on the left, discussed the solar array options with the Board of Selectmen on Monday.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The CEO of a local solar company is recommending the town own a photovoltaic system instead of leasing.
Mark Guilds of the Solar Guide told the Board of Selectmen on Monday that there are many more benefits to owning a solar array.
The town is looking to construct an array on a parcel of land on Prospect Street the town bought in 2007 for a senior center.
"Once the program or the farm is paid off, the monies you would typically be paying would be a savings," Guilds said, adding that the tax credits and the reduction in utility costs will mostly cover the loan on the equipment.
Mostly, the key is that once the array is paid off, the town will see thousands of dollars in savings in energy costs, which protects the town from escalating prices. 
"We are proposing that the town own the system for a number of reasons," Guilds told the Selectmen. 
The town's energy committee had previously released a request for proposals to build the array but only received one proposal. That proposal didn't benefit the town much, the committee determined, so no action was taken. Now with a new tax incentive program in place, the town is looking to try again
"We're at the point where the free systems are gone. It is more of a case of how much we want to invest," said Selectman and Energy Committee member Robert Ericson.
While Guilds is hoping the new RFP gives an "equal playing field" that will allow his company to bid on the project, the town isn't quite at the point of releasing one. The Board of Selectmen is applying for a grant through the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to bring on a consultant to help craft the request.
In other business, the Selectmen issued a secondhand pawnbroker licenses to EcoATM, a company planning to open an unmanned kiosk at the Berkshire Mall. According to Police Investigator Timothy Sorrell, the company has passed all records checks done by the department and has a good reputation of working with police during investigations
"It definitely sounds like a legitimate company," Sorrell said, adding that he did some extra research about the company and the system seems to work.
The Selectmen questioned if the kiosk was similar to one that was involved in a series of stolen cell phones last year in New York State, but that query couldn't be answered. 
Stephen Wentworth was appointed to the Finance Committee.
"If there is a problem we can always come back and revisit," said Selectman Henry Sayers, who said he will be looking into that case in New York.
The Selectmen also appointed Stephen Wentworth to the Finance Committee. William Stevens did not run for re-election and nobody else sought the seat. Wentworth will fill the position until 2015, when there will be another election.
Stevens died recently and the Selectmen held a moment of silence recognizing the longtime elected official. Town Administrator Paul Sieloff questioned what else the town can do to recognize his service.
Also on Monday, the Board of Selectmen agreed to ask McCann Technical School to build a cover for fuel pumps at the police station.
The town is currently replacing all of the above-ground equipment and wants to protect the pumps from rusting as quickly.
"We are in the process of redoing that area. It is all rusted out," said Sieloff.

Tags: alternative energy,   appointments,   municipal solar,   solar array,   

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