LANCASTER -- The town of Billerica will be the beneficiary of net-metering credits generated on a solar facility in Lancaster that can later be used to offset energy costs within the town.
In a press release dated Jan. 24, M+W US, a subsidiary of the global engineering and construction company M+W Group, Gehrilcher Solar America and EDF Renewable Energy, announced the construction of the project, its second in the state.
The project will be a 6-megawatt, ground-mounted, fixed-tilt project on 26 acres of privately owned land at the old Shirley Airport.
All the power generated will be delivered to Billerica as part of a long-term power-purchase agreement.
Nader Jandaghi, director of commercial solar for EDF, said it's an exciting project for the parties involved.
"We extend our gratitude to the town officials of Lancaster, Shirley and Billerica for their strong support for the project, and we look forward to continue to work closely to deliver clean solar power at a time when communities are seeking cost-effective energy solutions that reduce greenhouse gases," he said.
No part of the project is on land in Shirley, according to Energy Committee Chairman Bryan Dumont, and will not affect any solar project the town is working on.
Nader said the project adds a lot to the company portfolio of both distribution-generated and utility-scale solar projects across North America.
"We will deliver cost-competitive renewable energy and economic benefits to the host communities," he said.
Billerica Town Manager John Curran did not return calls seeking comment Monday.
Lancaster Town Manager Orlando Pacheco said the project, as designed, will in no way impact the town in a negative manner, and he and selectmen have supported the project.
He said this is one of three solar fields in town, including one on Route 70 that supplies Lancaster with enough net-metering credits to cover the town's electric usage.
"We permitted the project," Pacheco said. "It had to go through the Lancaster Planning, Conservation and Zoning boards. The folks over there approached us about buying net-metering credits, but because we have our own generation, we don't have the capacity for it."
Pacheco said municipalities like Lancaster and Billerica are good users of the credits because of their size and usage.
"The average person doesn't use enough power to offset the credits," he said. "I believe the developer approached us and a number of other communities. We're actually very supportive of the project."
Pacheco said the town does have a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement in place in which the owner of the project pays the town $10,000 a quarter in personal-property taxes.
Also, Pacheco added, the town collects real-estate property taxes on the project, but he did not know the exact number the town would collect per year.
"Because the assessors already have a format in place on how to assess property, we leave them to that and we use a PILOT," he said.
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