CVEC promotes solar project for Aquinnah town buildings

Solar canopies projected to yield $8,652 in electricity savings for Town of Aquinnah. — Screenshot

Liz Argo, executive director of the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) came before Aquinnah selectmen Tuesday night. Following a celebratory conversation about the two new electric charging stations created in town, Argo gave the board an idea of the savings they will realize from an impending solar project at town hall and offices, the police station, and the fire station.

“These projects, which are going in relatively for free, will earn — for the town hall and the police department, about $4,000 a year, and for the fire department, another $4,500 a year,” she said. 

She went on to say the figure was a bit higher in total, $8,600 per year. 

The projects consist of 6,000 square feet of rooftop solar panels on the police station, town hall, and the town offices, and a 9,000-square-foot solar canopy over the lot in front of the fire station. Both the rooftop panels and the canopy will have batteries connected to them. The panels and canopy won’t be dumping electricity into the grid for credits.

“They will feed behind the meter,” she said, “meaning they will send power to the town hall and/or the police station.”

Argo pointed out the town already has the cost of electricity for the buildings covered in credits generated from the solar array at the town landfill. However, she noted that wasn’t the most efficient electrical formula for the town buildings. “When you can offset the full cost of electricity, that’s your best bargain,” she said. 

Selectman Juli Vanderhoop asked if the town would own the panels and canopy.

Argo said no. But the benefit was that the town didn’t have to foot the cost of them either. 

Town administrator Jeffrey Madison said in roughly a year, an addition is expected to the town offices. And the panel project will need to work around that construction.

Argo said there would be a penalty paid if the panels had to come off after they are installed, because the developer will have locked them into a financing agreement where they are expected to generate an uninterrupted return. She said the project may need another review if any panels will come off.

Aquinnah climate and energy committee chair Bill Lake, who is also president of CVEC, suggested the two projects could be executed in harmony. “Hopefully we can time the two construction projects so they reinforce each other, rather than compete with each other,” he said. 

The board took no votes on the project.