BlueWave Capital, a solar investment and developing company, presented Plympton selectmen a new power purchasing agreement (PPA) at the regularly scheduled selectmen’s meeting Monday night.
The two representatives from BlueWave were Aidan Foley and Mark Silvia. Silvia is a former Plymouth Town Manager, and worked in the Patrick administration on energy issues. Foley did most of the presenting.
BlueWave is already developing a solar complex on Lake Street, but this project has been held up in litigation by an abutter. Although Foley stated that the company is still supporting the project and believes they will prevail in the court challenge, construction has not begun and therefore the company is offering the town a similar proposal using electricity from a nearly finished solar complex on Crystal Spring Road in Mattapoisett. The Crystal Spring Road project is five times larger than Lake Street and sited on 25 acres.
The pricing is similar to the Lake Street project, but the town would see savings much sooner if the board accepts the newest PPA.
Using a concept called “net metering”, BlueWave proposes selling “credits” to Plympton on whatever electricity accounts it chooses. Plympton would be able to change those accounts up to twice a month, resulting in lower bills from its energy distributor, Eversource. The town would also be billed for the cost of the credits from BlueWave, which would be defined in the PPA.
The net benefit to the town is much cheaper electricity. BlueWave proposes a rate of 10.5/cents a KwH. Over the life of a twenty-year contract, a conservative estimate of the savings according to Foley is $1 million to $1.3 million.
All three selectmen expressed enthusiasm for the concept, but asked careful questions of the representatives from BlueWave.
When asked what the downsides were to signing on, Foley didn’t mention many, other than it might be nicer to buy from a project in one’s own community, but encouraged the board to think of this as a “financial transaction.” He also mentioned the chance that electricity rates could fall below the rate the town would contract. He suggested that this is highly unlikely, though, as research provided by the company showed electricity rates rising for 22 of the last 30 years.
The contract would also include a clause ensuring that if the town does lose money over the term of the contract, they would get very low priced electricity for two years following the contract.
Selectmen Chairman Mark Russo wanted to ensure the board had the authority to enter into the agreement, and wished to know what the next steps would be if the board did decide to sign a PPA.
Town Coordinator Dale Pleau ensured Russo that this was an executive decision and that the board had the authority to enter into an agreement.
Foley noted that the next step would be a formal agreement, signed after town counsel and BlueWave’s attorneys reviewed the document, and that the process is “simple” and “quite straightforward.”
Selectperson Christine Joy also questioned the presenters, ensuring that the town would be able to get out of the agreement should BlueWave go bankrupt or otherwise fail.
Foley stated that the town could terminate the agreement in that situation, and sue for damages.
Although BlueWave expressed a desire to move quickly on a decision, Russo asked for a week for the board to think about its options and whether they need to recall BlueWave in front of the board before making a final decision.Ring Road Land
Preliminary paperwork to acquiring property donated to the town was again signed by selectmen.
Linda Leddy, representing both Open Space and the Conservation Committees, reminded the board that although they had already accepted and signed the deed acquisition paperwork for the parcel on Ring Road, providing access to Churchill Park and the Cato’s Ridge area of the park, because so much time had gone by and because the make-up of the board has changed, she felt it best that the paperwork be re-signed, “just to make sure everything is ship-shape.”
The 16+ acre parcel is on the northwest side of Ring Road, through which Plympton people have had temporary access and use thanks to Roger O’Neil, who agreed to the passageway two years ago. The land consists of the initial section of the Jones River Brook, which winds through the marsh. The whole parcel abuts the town’s Cato’s Ridge Conservation Area at the north end, which is part of the new Plympton Parks as of the 2012 town meeting vote.
Russo noted that this parcel is a key piece in the Plympton Parks project.
Plymouth County Livescan System
The board voted to accept the Morphotrak Livescan System (commonly called an automated fingerprint identification system, or AFIS) at no cost to the town on behalf of the police department. The machine uses a scanner to collect finger and palm prints, and electronically submits them to state and federal databases.
According to a letter from Police Chief Patrick Dillon to the board, Plympton has been selected to participate in this more modern way of collecting and submitting fingerprints, called the Plymouth County Live Scan Project.
Currently the police “roll prints” using ink, but they are often rejected because of the quality of the fingerprints, delaying the identification of individuals for a variety of criminal and civil matters, sex offender registration as well as firearms license applicants, according to Dillon.
The machine will reject poor scans, thus greatly increasing the quality of the prints, and decreasing the time police need to identify individuals.
The machine became available from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security with funding from the Sex Offender Registry Notification Act and is valued at approximately $18,500.
In other news,
• The board accepted Town Accountant Barbara’s Gomez’s request to appoint an assistant town accountant to act in her absence. Christine Kelly was appointed to the already funded position.
• The Plymouth County Registry of Deeds will hold Plympton office hours Thursday, October 22, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. in the Main Meeting Room at Plympton Town House, 5 Palmer Road. Register John Buckley, Jr., and his staff will be available to answer questions and computers will be set up to print a Registry-recorded deed, confirm the status of a mortgage discharge or check on any filing. No appointments are needed.