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Lancaster Eyes Solar Energy, Seeing $25,000 Annual Savings

h080 / Flickr/cc

Lancaster could become the first town in the North Country to extensively use solar energy to help cover its electric costs. But that’s contingent on getting an okay from voters next month.

The proposal, going before voters at the March town meeting, would pay for a series of solar panels providing about 121 kilowatts, says town planner Ben Gaetjens-Oleson.

“We’re looking at placing three solar arrays at two locations, one at the transfer station, one at the waste-water lagoon to run the aerators and one also at the lagoons for the chlorinator building," he said.

The select board is seeking permission to borrow up to $320,000 but Gaetjens-Oleson says reneweable energy rebates could cut that to around $243,000.

The estimate is that going solar would save the town about $25,000 a year. That’s about 25 percent of the town’s total energy cost.

The hope is that a $320,000 loan would be repaid in 15 years with those savings. But it could be quicker if the rebates come through, lowering the overall cost, Gaetjens-Oleson said.

Moving ahead requires approval by two thirds of the voters

Several years ago Colebrook installed "SolarBees," in which mixers for the sewage lagoon are powered by small solar panels, said Rep. Larry Rappaport.  Berlin also has some solar panels at the city's water works, said Mayor Paul Grenier.

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