Council Approves Solar Energy System; Electricity Contract

Officials are in favor of utilizing alternative energy options.


At Monday's meeting, Town Council members approved Power and Services and Site Access Agreements with Solect Energy Development for the installation, operation and maintenance of a solar energy system at the Town Hall Annex.

An initial proposal was presented to and embraced by the Council at a work session on Nov. 14, as there will be no cost to taxpayers for the system and will save the Town money. According to Solect officials, the Coventry grant of $325,000 is the third largest award in the state for this pilot program.

“About 56% of the project will be funded through a grant from the Rhode Island Department of Economic Development,” explained Solect Principal Ken Driscoll during the presentation.

The 15-year agreement will give the Town the option to buy the system at a reduced price of $70,000 after six years or as low as $1 at year 15.

"I'm definitely in favor of seeing us purchase this system for one dollar in 15 years," said Council President Gary Cote.

The 125Kw system will provide one third of the power for the Annex at a reduced rate compared to what is currently being paid, saving the Town over $8,000 in the first year.

"It is a win win for both sides and it's at no cost to the taxpayers," said Cote. "In my head, this one is easy."

As part of the agreement, Solect will maintain the system and remove and reinstall panels at no cost to the Town if roof repair is ever needed.

"Hopefully this will be one of many alternative energy sources that we can use to make energy more affordable to our residents," said Town Manager Tom Hoover.

Direct Energy Contract

A one-year contract was awarded to Direct Energy for the purchase of electricity under the League of Cities and Towns' Rhode Island Energy Aggregation Program (REAP) at a cost of 6.95 cents per kWh.

Hoover strongly advised the approval of the contract, saying that six different companies were considered and Direct Energy, one of the largest suppliers in the country, will save the Town 3.25 cents per kWh from what is currently being paid.

"This is a good deal for the Town because we are starting to get into alternative energy," he said. "I recommend a one-year contract so that we can look at the numbers next year and decide whether or not to extend it."


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