CHESHIRE -- The Planning Board accepted a proposal that will set a 570,000 kilowatt solar array at the renovated Hoosac Valley High School building on Savoy Road at a meeting Monday night.
Board member Bernard Bator described the proposed project as "well worth the efforts" and voiced strong support, saying Adams and Cheshire stand to benefit financially from the project, and students will benefit from advanced environmental education and awareness.
Robert Clark of Dry Brook Solar and Adams-Cheshire Regional School District Superintendent Alfred Skrocki gave a presentation on the proposal before the board passed judgment.
They focused on the proposal's meticulous planning process and its projected results, which organizers claim will be a cost-saver for the towns by reducing the cost of power and solidifying a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the larger school building project.
"The cost [of power] in this agreement is much lower than the historical cost of similar projects and much less than is projected in the future," Clark said. "It provides a good stability for the towns."
According to the agreement, the district is obligated to purchase all the power produced by the array at seven cents per kilowatt hour, with a yearly one percent escalation clause.
In addition, a LEED certification knocks off two percent from the final cost of the school building project, or
Developer JM Electric will install the array at no cost to the district in the field across from the building's main office, using minimal grading, a gravel bed and a "grassy" finish. The array will be fenced off and monitored by video cameras.
"The plans were drawn out to achieve the maximum benefit to taxpayers on the long and short term," Skrocki said. "And most importantly, we have plans to create environmental electives, classes and programs for students and we'll be using the site as a hands-on laboratory."
Skrocki said he hopes the school's three rainwater harvesting tanks, meters planned for near the main office to measure the solar array's output and other environmental considerations inspire future careers in environmental science.
One homeowner from an abutting Savoy Road property also attended the meeting, offering his approval of the project.
Two concerns raised by the board -- the planting of trees near the fence by Savoy Road and the potential removal of the array should the agreement terminate -- were each addressed to the board's satisfaction. Small trees and shrubs will be planted by the road, and district counsel Jeffrey Grandchamp said per the agreement, the array can either be bought by the district, removed by the developer, or taken on by a separate company in the case of changes.
The lease agreement is for 20 years with options to extend coming at five-year increments after the initial period.
Adams Town Administrator Jonathan Butler attended the meeting as well, speaking favorably of the prospect.
Soil testing was performed at the site last week, and progress depends on an approval from National Grid, who Clark said had slated the project "next on their list."
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