A windfall for Marion

Sep 22, 2016

To the Editor:

Beginning in mid-August, all of Marion’s municipal electricity has come from wind. If you’ve driven to the Cape lately, you’ll have seen the four new turbines spinning along Route 25 that are generating clean power from wind energy. Marion’s Energy Management Committee sparked the agreement that brings this renewable electricity to our town, saving the town a bundle of money – at least $80,000 per year. Not only are we now spending less on electricity, but the power from these turbines is reducing fossil fuel use by about 12,000 tons of coal per year, or enough electricity for about 2,200 homes. In a world of gloomy headlines, this good news is a breath of fresh air.

This windfall can be leveraged to save the town even more money by investing in projects to increase our energy efficiency. The EMC has proposed that half of the savings be used to create an energy efficiency fund to pay for town projects such as converting street lights to LEDs, replacing old boilers and air conditioners with new energy-efficient units in town buildings, and buying or re-leasing the town’s electric vehicles when their leases expire. Each investment idea will require approval by the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, and/or Town Meeting.

The warrant for the Marion Special Town Meeting includes an article to authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the General Court to allow some of the savings from our wind-generated electricity to be reinvested in further energy-efficiency measures that will save even more money. Please come to Town Meeting at 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Sippican School and vote “aye” on Article #5. Let’s keep Marion sailing toward a greener future!

 

Jennifer Francis

Marion’s Energy Management Committee

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ted North | Sep 23, 2016 12:02

NSTAR has elected an option of sending Marion a check as payment for generating credits derived from the wind power contract that would otherwise be applied to the Town’s electric bills. For proper recognition of the credits the Town simply adjusts the book accruals by applying generally accepted accounting practice.

There is no new found money as the EMC would like taxpayers to believe.

The Energy Management Committee sold the town on the idea the four electric cars acquired were free. The car lease costs were funded by a state grant using your state taxpayer money.

When the thee year car leases expire taxpayers will need to appropriate $80,000 to $100,000 for replacement cars.

Using the “paid for” retired police cars as town utility vehicles is just prudent fiscal and good asset management practice. The Town should return to this practice when the electric car leases expire.

The EMC has totally misrepresented the cost of this program to taxpayer by committing the Town to this future obligation without full disclose of the true cost or Town Meeting approval.

Do not count on long them cost saving for the wind contract. The contact is essentially a 20 year comedies requirements contact. The Town assumes all material adverse changes for a twenty-year period with no contract “outs”. When this wind contact was proposed by the EMC oil was $140 and today its $45 a barrel. Its more probable then remote the Town will likely end up side down in its electric costs because of this wind contract. Like oil electricity is a commodity.

A NO vote on the EMC’s Town Meeting warrant article is prudent action to stop this continuing nonsense.

Ted North

Marion

 



Posted by: jafrancis | Sep 24, 2016 07:32

It's really a shame that Mr. North doesn't do a bit of research and gather facts before he types his letters. Let me correct a few of his misstatements here:

 

1) The agreement for the wind-generated electricity provides a percentage discount from the rates the town would normally pay. If the price of electricity changes, our discounted rate goes with it. So yes, this is new-found money. If something were to happen to the wind turbines, the worst that can happen is that we revert to paying the rate we have always paid.

 

2) The town's new electric cars were acquired from a state grant that is NOT funded by taxes, it is created by a fee collected when you get your car inspected. The fund pays for a variety of pollution-reducing efforts, including helping municipalities replace their old, gas-guzzling vehicles with clean, efficient, and MUCH more cost-effective electric ones. We are all contributing to this fund when our cars are inspected, so if we don't apply for the grants it supports, we would be missing out on the benefits.

3) When the 3-year leases on the electric cars expire, we have several options. In all likelihood, the grant program will still exist, in which case we will apply for renewals to lease new cars. If not, the Energy Efficiency Fund we are proposing in Article #5 of the Town Meeting warrant could be used to purchase the cars, or lease other ones. Either way, the town saves a bundle of money.

 

4) While it's true that oil prices have dropped, electricity rates have not. See for yourself here: http://www.bls.gov/regions/new-england/news-release/averageenergyprices_boston.htm .

My guess is that Mr. North is well aware of this fact, and he's using blatant misinformation to support his argument.

 

If you have further questions about any *facts* related to these efforts, please ask anyone on the EMC or your town officials, and please come to Town Meeting on October 24th and vote for Article #5.

Jennifer Francis, EMC



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