Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 03-28-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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6 WOONSOCKET MARCH 28-APRIL 3, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION WOONSOCKET – More than a year after a renewable energy subcommittee first began look- ing into establishing a solar farm to deliver potential energy savings to the city, members have nar- rowed down their options, bringing in North Kingstown-based Green Development to discuss the project. Officials discussed a potential con- tract during a meeting at City Hall last Thursday, March 21. The company was one of seven that responded to a request for proposals for a renewable energy project issued by the city last April. According to subcommittee Chairman Jon Brien, members of the committee, and the larger City Council, eliminated some offers by looking at the financial benefits and the location of each proposed farm, ultimately settling on Green Development. "We're trying to do the best deal for the city of Woonsocket, and they presented the best deal," he told The Breeze following the meeting. However, not everyone agrees on the best path forward for a city-based solar farm. Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt told The Breeze this week she hopes to "hit the reset button" on the selec- tion process and go back out to bid due to concerns with the city-issued request for proposals. She shared some of those concerns during last week's meeting, telling councilors she would have preferred a request specifying the location of the pro- posed farm rather than leaving it to companies to pitch potential sites to the city. She also expressed concerns about the use of the Narragansett Bay Commission, a quasi-govern- mental agency that has worked with Green Development for their own renewable energy projects, to review the bids and offer advice to the city. "If I was one of the other folks, I'm a little uncomfortable with the fact that we used a wastewater quasi to do the work of solar," she said. Baldelli-Hunt also questioned company representatives about their experiences with other communities in the state. Green Development, one of the state's largest provid- ers of renewable energy, with 52 megawatts of solar and wind projects online and more underway, is cur- rently engaged in legal action against two Rhode Island municipalities. According to company founder and Chairman Mark DePasquale, the suits were brought against the towns of Coventry and Exeter as a result of decisions made by the Zoning and Planning Boards in those communi- ties. Though neither party specified the locations under consideration dur- ing last week's meeting, Brien told The Breeze that Green Development was the only one of four finalists to propose a project located within the city limits. Several other companies proposed net metering contracts that would allow the city to reap savings from solar farms located in other municipalities. While com- mittee members expressed interest in signing a net metering agree- ment with Green Development that would allow the city to begin reaping benefits prior to the completion of a city-based project, Brien said the committee had eliminated propos- als that only included net metering agreements with no physical project. Committee members also ruled out proposals from both Green Development and other companies for a property on the banks of the Woonsocket Reservoir. Though owned by the city of Woonsocket, the property actually rests within the town limits of North Smithfield. Brien said he believed the neigh- boring town, which is currently considering a separate, 40-megawatt proposal from Green Development for a solar farm off Iron Mine Hill Road, had reached its limit of "solar fatigue" and would not be a good location for the city's proposed farm. Public Works Director Steven D'Agostino also expressed concerns with that site based on its proximity to the reservoir. "Our land is watershed-protected land for the reservoir. And I'm not going to be the one who contami- nates it," he said. "I'm just going to be up front about that." Brien and other members of the committee defended the bidding City in talks with Green Development about solar farm By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com BREEZE PHOTO BY LAUREN CLEM Mayor LISA BALDELLI-HUNT and members of the City Council's renewable energy subcommittee, including John Ward, right, met with representatives of Green Development, including company founder MARK DEPASQUALE, far left, last week. Continues on next page

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