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Solar array proposal considered by select board

On Tuesday, September 10, Nils Behn came before the Warren Select Board with a proposal to install a solar array behind Brooks Field at Warren Elementary School.

The solar array, which would be installed by Behn's company, Aegis Renewable Energy, would occupy a strip of land of about 40 feet by 300 feet between the road on the far side of the field and the forest behind it. The array would include 319 to 330 solar panels and produce about 97,000 kilowatts of net-metered electricity.

"I would say we're very interested [in the solar array]," select board chair Andy Cunningham said following Behn's proposal, explaining that the next step of the process would be to hold a public hearing to see if Warren residents are interested as well.

Behn presented three options for financing the estimated $350,000 project, each with its own pros and cons.

The first financing option, third-party ownership, would allow Warren to install the array at no up-front cost and would not require the town to maintain it. It would, however, require the town to enter into a 20-year lease from which the town would receive little long-term financial gain.

The second financing option, town ownership, would allow Warren to realize the full long-term financial gain from the array but would require the town to maintain it and install it as an out-of-pocket expense. It would also prevent Warren from taking advantage of tax benefits from the array.

The third financing option, town lease/ownership, is a combination of the two and—at first glance—was most appealing to the board. The downside of the town lease/ownership option is that, according to Behn, it may not be available until 2014.

If Warren chooses to go ahead with the project, Behn estimates that the array could be installed within three to four months and that the installation could be done this winter. The select board will continue to communicate with Behn as they gather more information on the different financing options.

 

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