Wind company ready to cut deal to sell power from Plymouth turbines

Mar 6, 2013

Future Generation Wind LLC was back in town this week, asking Selectmen to approve an agreement to purchase power from the four wind turbines it plans to construct in Plymouth.

At last fall's Town Meeting, voters gave Selectmen the authority to negotiate such "net metering power purchasing agreements" with alternative energy companies.

On Tuesday, Selectmen were receptive to the proposal, but wanted more time to consider the details.

Project sponsor Keith Mann told Selectmen that the turbines would be constructed on his 150-acre farm, located at 810 Head of the Bay Road in South Plymouth. "You'll be able to see the turbines from Route 25 and Head of the Bay Road," he said.

He needs a signed agreement with the town to buy some of the wind power in order to get financing for the project. In return, the town would receive cut-rate electricity for 25 years.

"If you don't have an agreement to sell the project, you can't get financing," said CEO of Foresight Energy Solutions Carlos Pineda, who was there to answer any technical questions regarding the agreement.

Future Generation entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with the town of Marion as well as the Old Rochester Regional school district last August. But the company still needs more customers.

At last fall's Town Meeting, voters faced two requests from wind-power providers. After using an article submitted on behalf of Sage Stone LLC to give Selectmen the power to negotiate agreements with any such company, voters failed to act on a Future Generation request -- saying it would be "redundant."

On Tuesday, Selectmen delayed a decision on the power-purchase agreement.

While the agreement would reduce the town's electric bill, Selectmen Alan Slavin wanted to make one thing abundantly clear: "I want people to understand that the wind power is not being built in Wareham."

Wind power has been controversial in Wareham ever since a proposal by Bog Wind to build several tall turbines in Wareham was met with stiff citizen resistance.

Under the proposed power purchase agreement, Future Generation would sell "net-metering credits" to NStar. The electric company would then put those credits into the town account, and the town's electric bill would be discounted accordingly.

Future Generation estimates that the agreement could save the Town of Wareham approximately 27 percent on its municipal electric bill over the life of a 25-year contract with Future Generation Wind LLC.

There is a ten megawatt cap on how many net-metering credits a town may purchase as a host customer, but in this case Marion would be the host customer. That means the ten megawatt cap would not be an issue for Wareham.

The board voted to get solid answers on what Wareham's current usage is, versus what is allowed by the cap before moving forward.