CHESHIRE -- Officials mulled whether to split the town's electricity bills between National Grid and a private company for a cost savings at this week's Selectmen's meeting.
John Guerin, vice president of operations and sales at Hancock renewable energy company EOS Ventures, attended Tuesday's meeting, promising a deal tantamount to "free money" for the town.
By as early as 2014, he said, the company aims to complete three solar developments, one each in Hancock, Adams and North Adams.
If it does, National Grid would be state-mandated to buy the power from the company. Towns and municipal entities could then buy energy credits from EOS and receive a 10 percent discount on the power they use, Guerin said.
"If [a particular month's] bill were $12,000 and you had 10,000 credits from us that month, then you'd pay National Grid $2,000 and pay us 90 percent of the value of the credits: $9,000," Guerin said.
If credits were to exceed the monthly bill, they'd carry over to the following month, Guerin said. He provided an example where the town covered 85 percent of its monthly bill in credits and saved 8.3 percent.
After correcting Guerin's "free money" assertion -- Selectwoman Gloria Lewis said it would instead be "cost reduction" -- officials asked questions about the reliability of the deal. They were concerned that with such a long agreement -- Guerin proposes a 25-year deal, or the expected life span of a solar development -- a lot could go wrong.
"[Would we be] at risk if a political change were to happen?" Lewis asked, pointing out that a change could result in the repurposing of key government subsidies.
"In that sense, anything can change," Guerin replied, but "worst-case scenario, you're back where you were."
Guerin said West Stockbridge, the Adams Fire District, Southern Berkshire Regional School District, Adams-Cheshire Regional School District and a "couple others" he could not disclose were considering signing on. He said the earliest the deal could go through was next summer.
Cheshire's street lights use the largest amount of energy at $43,000 per year, followed by its water pumps, at $16,000 per year. Selectmen agreed to take the matter under advisement.
In other business Tuesday, Selectmen received bids for the replacement of the furnace in School Street's Senior Center. Klammer Plumbing & Heating bid $8,900 and Pittsfield Pipers Inc. bid $9,700. Selectmen said they would take this item under advisement as well. At a special town meeting in February, the body voted to set aside $8,000 for the furnace. Selectmen said Tuesday the balance would come out of Selectmen's expenses.
To reach Phil Demers, email