Barnstable Town Council Hears Benefits Of Solar Proposal

Top town government in Barnstable revealed its split personality last night.

There was the cooperative, effective side, as demonstrated in the lengthy workshop held by the Barnstable Town Council on a proposed $18 million, 4-megawatt solar array at the capped town landfill.

The town’s solar subcommittee, working with town staffers and consultants brought in through Town Manager John C. Klimm, had put together a complex proposal that could bring in more than $5 million in revenues over the course of a 20-year contract.

Then there was the uncooperative, contentious side, as shown in a split, failed vote to hold an inquiry into the resignation of Town Council Administrator Donald Grissom, and the destruction of a quorum following an hour-long executive session concerning contract negotiations with Mr. Klimm.

Town Councilor J. Gregory Milne of Hyannis had sponsored the inquiry proposal because he said questions remain about the sudden resignation of Mr. Grissom.

But Barnstable Town Council President Frederick Chirigotis moved up the proposal on the agenda, giving Town Councilor James M. Tinsley, who was not feeling well, an opportunity to vote on the proposal. Mr. Milne’s proposal failed on a 6-6 vote, with Mr. Tinsley then leaving town hall. Councilor Janet Joakim of Centerville also left at that point. Richard Barry of Cotuit did not attend last night’s meeting.

Following the completion of the scheduled agenda, the council voted 8-2 to go into executive session for contract negotiations with Mr. Klimm, and then to return into open session.

But enough councilors did not return to the hearing room after the session to maintain the nine-vote quorum, leading Barnstable Town Clerk Linda Hutchenrider to dissolve the meeting.

Tension could be felt in the room following the conclusion of the executive session and the destruction of the quorum. That mood contrasted sharply with the mutual good feeling earlier in the meeting over the solar energy proposal.

The town’s energy coordinator, Richard Elrick, called the solar proposal “an extraordinary opportunity for the town.”

The plan calls for the installation of 14,275 solar panels over 17 acres at the town’s capped landfill off Flint Street in Marstons Mills.

The town would work with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative Inc., of which the town is a member, and American Capital Energy Inc. of Chelmsford, which would build and operate the array, to develop the project.

Under the proposal, the town would buy the power at a low fixed price of 6.9 cents per kilowatt hour, and receive a net-metering credit from the cooperative. The town would receive monthly revenue on the difference between the price of power and the net-metering credit.

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