Proposed solar farm would benefit Marion

Dec 9, 2018
To the Editor:
My name is Chris Collings, I am a Planning Board member, and advocate for the proposed solar farm location along Wareham Road. This letter is in response to John Rockwell’s Letter to the Editor from Nov. 26.
First off - PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) payments are no more an illegal payment than a property owner’s tax bill is a bribe to remove trash and clear the street, so let’s back off the bluster and innuendo shall we?
Now let’s look at few numbers:
1) $1,200,000 in PILOT payments available to the town.  This is the estimated total value of the Pilot payments proposed for the Wareham Road solar array.  Is it the “best possible deal”?  I can’t really say, but it’s more than worth the time to discuss.
2) $700,000.00. This is the estimated cost of electrical switch gear needed to host a separate solar array on top of the town dump.  Without financial help, the connection cost will keep this long desired goal out of reach for the town.
3) $600,000.00. This is an estimated income available to the town each year from electricity generated by a PV array on the dump.
4) $95,000.00 per business day. This is the average amount of money the Town of Marion expends every business day.  With only 2400 homes supporting this spending, any help is valuable.
Now lets look at the term “large-scale:” 
“Large-scale” is not a unit of measure, it is a generalization that provides no specific guidance.  
During their presentations, the solar developer displayed a graphic that listed by size the solar arrays in the region. The proposed array for Wareham Road was nearly in the middle of list - half where larger and half were smaller in size.  The proposed array is not large or small, it’s average. It was also the only listing for Marion.  All of our neighboring towns are currently hosting solar arrays.
Many town residents may not be aware of this, but the authors of the solar bylaw (the Energy Committee) are on record (twice) in support of this project.  
And the term “forest:”
The proposed property along Wareham road is not forested.  In fact, much of this lot was a grazing pasture within the last 30 years.  The lot is not fully grown-in or mature and much of it is young, scrub pine and not particularly valuable (as explained in detail by members of the Energy Commission).
Why is the PILOT opportunity important? Clearly this could be a rhetorical question, but under the circumstances it requires review. We as a town want many things — a renovated Town Hall and street improvements are at the top of the list.  PILOT payments could go a long way to help these projects.
Here is another good reason — the electrical system infrastructure required to support a solar array on the dump is estimated to cost between $700,000 and $1,000,000.  These costs make a long-sought goal of a solar dump unattainable without help.
Hosting a solar array of the size proposed does require everyone to work together and bend just a little, but given the balance of opportunities available for the town it makes sense to work together on this.
John, it is easy to put on the blinders, but that restrictive view only leaves the local tax payers with ever-increasing bills.
Chris Collings
Safe Roof Systems