Hampered by delays and rising construction costs, the second phase of a planned solar project built by the Cape and Vineyard Electrical Cooperative in Tisbury has been cancelled.
“Phase two is not happening for a variety of reasons,” selectman Tristan Israel said at Tuesday night’s board meeting.
In an email to the Gazette Wednesday morning, town administrator John (Jay) Grande said the decision was reached following a meeting last month between the contractor, G&S, the Tisbury building inspector and public works director.
Tisbury signed a contract with CVEC in 2011 to build solar arrays on the town capped landfill (phase one) and at the site of the town compost pile (phase two). Groundbreaking for phase one took place in November of this year. The 1.2 megawatt project, which is expected to save the town $78,000 in energy costs its first year of operation, is largely completed but not yet online.
The phase two project was far smaller in scale at just 63 kilowatts. Though both projects experienced delays early on, the phase two array had a more troubled start. In January, the original contractor for the project, Broadway Electric, went out of business. CVEC secured G&S as the new contractor shortly after.
The compost pile at the site had been cleared in anticipation of the new construction work, but after that process was complete it was determined the ground needed more work in order to be ready for the installation.
“There was $15,000 in additional site work to be accomplished out there,” Mr. Grande told selectmen on Tuesday. “G&S, the contractor, was not willing to go forward and do that work, and I had not received indication that the town felt it was beneficial to do that [either].”
Selectmen voted unanimously to write a letter to CVEC informing them that they would not be moving forward with the phase two array as planned. The town reserves the right to build an array independently in the future.
Reached by telephone on Wednesday, Mr. Israel said when CVEC had first approached the town with the projects it was with the understanding that they would be at no cost to the town.
“This is a small one, this is not like the [phase one] we have now,” he said. “So I think the feeling was at this point it wasn’t worth the investment.”
Mr. Israel said he did not have a timetable for when the phase one array would officially go online. At Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted to sign an updated contract with CVEC, pending town counsel review. The contract came under scrutiny from the board after a recent amendment by CVEC asked Tisbury to pay some costs between when the project goes online and when the town’s first energy savings payment comes in from NSTAR.
“Language requiring us to continue to pay before we get any reimbursement at all from CVEC or the contractor [was deleted],” Mr. Grande said. “So we’re not fronting any money for the project, which I understand some other communities have. We are not willing to run negative numbers on this account.”
In other business Tuesday, selectmen approved a $7,000 transfer from the reserve fund to cover payroll costs for the ambulance and emergency services department through the end of fiscal year 2014. Mr. Grande said the department was adequately funded for the coming fiscal year, but was currently short one paramedic. A search to fill that position is ongoing.
Patricia Carlet reported to the board on behalf of the Tashmoo Spring Building Committee, noting that the restored building had just hosted its first wedding. The building is available to rent for both public and private events, and has seen steady increases in revenue since opening three years ago. Ms. Carlet said total revenues for the first three years were $14,345.96.
Selectman and board chairman Jonathan Snyder said that the board, along with Mr. Grande and town administrative secretary Aase Jones, held a successful goal-setting session last week in an effort to define town priorities for the coming year as well as the long term. The document is available at town hall.
The board also approved a Tisbury School fundraiser Fun Run, which will be held June 25.