Rochester Selectmen discuss solar energy project

By Jennifer Heshion | Apr 23, 2012
Photo by: Jennifer Heshion Rochester Town Administrator and Selectmen Chair Richard Nunes said the project would have to go before both the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission for approval.

Rochester — The City of New Bedford is seeking permits to build a 10-acre solar energy project in Rochester, producing enough electricity to cut the city’s municipal power costs by 30 percent.

In presenting plans to Selectmen this week, representatives from New Bedford said the project, on 20 acres of land the city owns on the shore of its Little Quittacas Pond reservoir, would provide the town with $800,000 in lieu of taxes over a 20-year period.

The pond is the primary source for drinking water in New Bedford, said the city’s Superintendent of Water Jim Ricci.

“Our goal is to have our entire water department working on green energy,” Ricci said.
While Rochester would not have use of the site, New Bedford officials, as well as the developers, Blue Wave Capital and Consolidated Edison, have offered a 20-year agreement to the town, should the plans receive approval from both the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission.

In addition to the $800,000 the town would receive, developers would also have to pay $150,000 in permitting fees, said Town Administrator Richard LaCamera.

Blue Wave Capital founder and managing partner John DeVillars said that developers would address any concerns from abutters.

“We really want to work with you, and ensure what is there is satisfactory to the town,” DeVillars said.

Ian Diamond, a representative from Consolidated Edison, agreed.

“We want to get this right,” Diamond said. “We’re not going to come in here and tell you how we’re going to do it. We want public input.”

Blue Wave Capital and Consolidated Edison will hold a public meeting at the New Bedford Water Department at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25.

If granted approval, DeVillars said he intends to begin installation of the solar panels by late summer.

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