PEPPERELL — Town Administrator John Moak and Town Engineer Kenneth Kalinowski were in attendance at the Board of Health meeting this week to educate the board on a solar-power generation facility proposed at the site of the old landfill on Boynton Street.
The solar “farm,” which would cover approximately 64,000 square feet, would generate 500,000 kilowatts of power and could save the town $40,000 to $50,000 in energy costs per annum, or roughly one-third of its annual municipal electricity bill.
An initial proposal by Spectrum Energy cited a desire to “develop a mutually satisfactory contract in the interest of the town to minimize costs and maximize savings in construction of a durable and meritorious project.”
“I know the Board of Health is concerned about how to pay for the continued monitoring of the landfill. We could take care of that and also give some savings for the electrical throughout the town,” said Moak.
Funding for annual landfill monitoring is expected to run out by 2014, which is also when a solar farm could start producing revenue for the town.
“Landfills are essentially under-utilized for the most part, unless you are going to put some sort of playing field on it,” said Kalinowski.
The town would be able to sell the power to other municipalities within National Grid’s customer base, or simply utilize it to reduce its own cost of electricity. Pepperell uses approximately 1,400,000 kilowatts of electricity each year. Twenty closed landfills in Massachusetts now have solar farms that are producing 42,800,000 kilowatts of power.
Additional discussions are anticipated over the coming weeks among town officials before a request for proposals is put out to interested solar providers.
The Board of Health gave its approval for a variance to Anthony Beattie of 36 Oak Hill St. to install a shallow well on a parcel he owns on Blue Heron Way. According to Beattie, the well will be used to irrigate an asparagus and potato crop using a drip irrigation system which requires approximately 30 to 50 gallons per minute of flow.
“I see no reason for the board not to approve this,” said Health Agent Kalene Gendron.
Under the town’s new well regulations, a variance is required for wells that are not drilled. However, those regulations came under some scrutiny this week as the board reviewed a letter from Hollis, N.H., driller Roger Skillings. In his letter, Skillings questioned the requirement that casings for drilled wells be at least 8 inches in diameter, citing his 40 years of experience of drilling wells with 6-inch casings for residential wells.
“We gave Roger Skillings weeks to read this requirement. He said it was fine,” said board member John Marriner.
When asked where the 8-inch requirement came from, board members were at a loss but suggested that Chairman Alfred Buckley may have proposed it. Buckley was absent from the meeting.
“Historically it was six,” said Gendron.
Secretary Sandra Grogan advised the board that she had discussed the issue with Buckley earlier in the day.
“He reviewed this and wondered where the 8-inch casing came from,” she said.
“Do we want to address it when we have a full board,” asked Gendron.
“You can address it all you want but you’re not going to change my mind,” said Marriner.
The board agreed to table the discussion until the next meeting.