Resident Questions Stated Facts About Solar Array Purchase

Concerned about lack of feasibility study

By Jeffery Dickinson

During the informational presentation on Article 6 at the Town Meeting on March 9, it was stated that the Town of Andover must buy the solar photovoltaic (PV) system from ReVision Energy, the private firm currently leasing roof space and selling electricity to the Town from the solar PV array mounted on the Town Hall.  That statement is factually incorrect and misleading. 

The Town of Andover has the option to purchase, not the obligation. The Town was properly requested (email at 4:19 PM on March 15) to correct this misstatement, however chose not to do so during the second installment of Town Meeting on March 16.

It should be noted again that no formal feasibility study, nor competing bids were sought for the leasing of Town property and entry into this multi-year agreement. Likewise, I am not aware of a plan for a professional review of the system’s performance and relative commercial value. This is something that would seem to be common sense given the cost and maintenance implications for which we are being asked to reserve funds.

Further, the note recently posted on the Town website regarding the solar PV system makes similar misstatements and perhaps should be vetted for technical and financial accuracy. That statement misrepresents costs. It neglects to include tax credits ReVision received, excludes costs of the air-source heat pumps, and presents an optimistic view of expenses related to the Town taking over and operating the systems for its remaining financially viable lifespan of 19 years at 2023. The significant cost to remove and dispose of the solar PV panels, which are considered a hazardous e-waste, is not addressed.

In my email to the Town as part of this year’s meeting process, I asked for clarity on how, if a future Town Meeting were to execute the purchase of the solar PV systems, the Town would evaluate the condition, performance, and future cost implications of owning a used solar PV array and the balance of system equipment.  I am still waiting for this clarification from a Town official. A recapitulation of an individual’s opinion is not sufficient, nor should it pass for good governance. I would like a statement from the Town of Andover on how it intends to proceed regarding the solar PV system reserve funds that are being built up.

Jeffery Dickinson
Bradley Lake Road, Andover
Lead Renewable Energy Specialist for CDM Smith Inc.