Antecedent site:

For Concord list:

Where are we? – Solar: Installment #3, prior to the BoS meeting October 25 2010

  • The parcels of land offered in Article 64 are discredited as serious candidates for a solar array – so is the process that brought bids forward on those parcels also discredited. But a majority of the Selectmen, according to the Town Manager, nonetheless continue to hunker down and narrowly pursue these options.
  • Where we could be: There exists a path forward – a big picture, the beginnings now clearly painted – that could see Concord into a sustainable future. A path that a Board of Selectmen – with vision forward and eyes fixed firmly on their democratic responsibility – could champion and so lead town governance to a quality outcome.

A. Discredited

How are both the Article 64 parcels and the process discredited? Let us count the ways …



  • The land is agricultural.
  • Residences surround the area. They depend on the space in their backyards for a quality of life, without imposition of an industrial facility such as a solar array locked in for 20 years.

Waste Water Treatment Facility

  • The WWTF approaches capacity, and is only at the beginning of its expansion planning. The Town Manager had to twist the arm of the Department of Public Works. Effectively he forced a give-up of unused but extant filter beds, facility that could be needed later for waste water treatment.
  • The treed plot was not part of the presentation to Town Meeting.

Together or separately, these parcels offer relatively little usable land. There are several other parcels, now identified, without these fatal limitations.


False statements, at Town Meeting and around it

  • Ammendolia’s agricultural use was falsely denied. Voters who were at Town Meeting report they would have voted against Article 64 if they had known the truth.
  • The sole impetus to proceed before year-end, the investment tax credit, proved unfounded.
  • In time, these false statements become a formal, legal matter.
  • Also, possibilities for the Spruce Mountain wind alternative were played down in the runup to Town Meeting – when in fact CMLP recently signed an agreement there, at a favorable price, over 15 years, for 60 percent more power than the entire Tioga bid.

The bidding process effectively failed

  • Forty-two vendors, of the 44 who picked up bid packets, did not offer a bid. Some anecdotal reports, from vendors who did not bid, underline how Concord did not adequately prepare, with knowledge aforehand, for a quality vendor partnership.
  • The vendor chosen promises roughly twice the output of the only other bid, but the land to be used is of course the same acreage. No public committee activity has vetted this blatant disparity, what in a sound oversight process would be inspected against the possibility of a low ball.
  • These solar PPA’s (purchase power agreements) are now being bundled and sold forward, a la bad mortgages of recent memory. That can break the chain of accountability, from inception to delivery over 20 years. These circumstances unfortunately create incentive for a low ball.

The Forest Ridge sub-station upgrade will only be delayed, if that

  • Some millions of dollars will be necessary to increase capacity at the Forest Ridge sub-station. Another ‘hurry up and do solar’ might delay that upgrade a little. But the costs, as recounted above (and further below), do not justify the relatively small savings from a delay.

B. Instead a big picture, for a sustainable future

  • Proponents for Article 64 have admitted there is no coherent justification available. A good bit worse, the one reason the Town Manager still argues – cost savings – (at the link, listen to the first audio under Exhibit B) has long been shown to be fallacious.
  • When there is, and has been, a complete analysis that can serve as starting point for a Concord process, to make sound choices for sustainability.

  • Rather than fail to reduce 40,000 tons of carbon locked in over 20 years, by committing prematurely to solar, discussion is already afoot to join hands with like-minded communities for wind projects. Wind serves better with present technology.
  • A quality town process would consider a full range of options – with, for example, wind just a beginning.

  • The town’s most precious resource, governance-wise, its town staff time, will not be consumed – ‘hundreds and hundreds of hours’ – chasing a chimera.
  • Instead, the serious commitment of staff time, necessary to bring major projects to fruition, will proceed soundly.

  • For the time when solar may prove in cost-wise – by one estimate from CMLP board deliberations, to a level where today’s solar costs are 250 percent too high – there are several parcels now identified for Concord to use. Those parcels do not bring the unworkable aspects of the currently proposed land.
  • A quality planning process can bring Concord’s parcel options forward in a schedule timely to when solar may prove in economically.