SHIRLEY -- Energy Advisory Committee Chairman Bryan Dumont brought a proposal before the selectmen Monday night for the first phase of a pilot solar project slated to be built on Water District land.

The contractor the committee selected to build the facility is EPG, which is one of only two companies in the state doing the specialized work required for solar, Dumont said.

The new system will provide 3 megawatts of power to Devens.

Anticipated town perks include lower municipal electricity bills and a substantial new revenue stream over the 20-year life of the contract, Dumont said.

He quoted some impressive numbers. For example, building the facility drops the town's electric rate by 40 percent and leasing the land promises to raise municipal revenue substantially over the 20-year life of the contract. With annual lease revenue of $37,604, the total comes to $752,080, Dumont said.

The EAC recommends that selectmen endorse the contract with a signed document, Dumont continued, and the Board of Assessors backs it up by the numbers, with expert input from a solar-savvy consultant hired for the purpose. EPG will come in later to officially seal the deal, he said.

A motion to accept the pilot program as presented passed unanimously.

Construction of the solar facility is expected to start in the spring.

In other business, selectmen appointed a new conservation agent, Takashi Tada, finally filling a position that's been historically hard to maintain. With just 12 hours a week on the clock, those who have taken on the job in recent years haven't stayed long.


Conservation Commission Chairman Nancy Askin said the allotted time was not sufficient for the required work.

At a previous meeting, she asked the selectmen to up the agent's hours from 12 to 19 per week, both to ensure the work gets done and that someone qualified would want the job.

The agent's job description was changed to meld with that of a secretarial position that had been empty for some time and would be phased out in the new setup, Askin told the board at the time. Most of the clerical duties a secretary once performed are not needed now that the office is computerized, she explained, with the rest rolled into the agent's duties.

Selectmen agreed to expand the position to 19 hours per week.

As it turned out, the applicant the commissioners wanted to hire as the new conservation agent changed her mind about taking the job. The advertisement went out again.

Monday night, Askin introduced Tada to the board as a "really outstanding candidate." References she checked gave him high marks as a scientist and for his "even temperament," she said. "He is qualified to do an excellent job here."

The selectmen agreed.

Chairman David Swain starred some of the items on Tada's resume, including college degrees suited to the position. Additionally, in the town of Ayer, Tada served on the Conservation Commission, Greenway Committee and the Pond and Dam Committee, Swain said.

Selectman Kendra Dumont said Tada had a "great resume" and she had no reservations about appointing him. He was hired, subject to the requisite CORI background check.