Energy deals to deliver cash, savings

HAVERHILL -- Nov 22 - McClatchy-Tribune Content Agency, LLC - Peter Francis The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.


The City Council approved two energy agreements which promise a steady revenue stream, as well as financial savings for the city.

In an 8-1 vote, the council approved a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with Bluewave Capital, LLC, to place solar panels on upper Hilldale Avenue. In a separate deal, the council unanimously voted to buy netmetering credits at a reduced rate to power the city's water and wastewater treatment plants.

Councilor Colin LePage was the lone dissenting vote on the PILOT agreement.

Starting with a $75,000 annual payment, which will increase every five years, the agreement with Bluewave Capital is projected to net the city $1.5 million in annual payments over the next 20 years.

The purchase of netmetering credits at 10 cents a kilowatt hour -- an 8-cent decrease from the city's current rate -- is expected to save the city between $70,000 and 80,000 annually.

Councilor William Macek spoke in favor of the agreements, adding that he previously had been concerned about the planning and permitting process Bluewave would be required to undertake. Those concerns were assuaged after a conversation with city Purchasing Director Orlando Pacheco.

"I think we do have a PILOT agreement that is very favorable for the community and I think we should pass this document," he said.

Macek's council colleague Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien also gave her resounding support for the Hilldale Avenue project, which will be constructed on 16.25-acres of land on the northern end of the road near the city's border with New Hampshire.

Mayor James Fiorentini initially suggested that the council postpone the discussion on the PILOT agreement for two weeks, a discussion that had already been postponed.

Fiorentini said that due to his focusing on taxes and downtown parking at Tuesday's meeting, he hadn't had a chance to give the agreements "the proper analysis." However, he said if the council chose to pass them it was fine.

"Two things you look at are what are you getting in a PILOT agreement compared to what you're getting if you simply levied the regular personal property tax?" he said. "And what are we getting in the PILOT agreement compared to what would we get if the property were to be developed?"

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