Montague initiates trio of energy-efficiency projects

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs.

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs.

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs.

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs.

The streetlights in Montague Center are going to be replaced with LEDs. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer

Published: 10-06-2023 6:42 PM

MONTAGUE — The town is a few shades greener following the Selectboard’s recent approval of three energy-efficiency projects.

The board first voted to execute a $71,400 Green Communities grant award, which was announced by the state Department of Energy Resources. The grant, which provides funding to help municipalities reduce energy consumption, contributes $61,400 toward Montague’s full conversion to LED street lighting. It also contributes $10,000 toward a hybrid inspection vehicle to be shared between three town departments.

Later, the Selectboard voted to enter a $192,930 contract with Alliance Clean Energy Inc. (ACE Solar) to install solar panels on the roof of the Town Hall annex.

Streetlight replacement

With the $61,400 grant-funded replacement of the Montague Center Lighting District’s 83 streetlights, the town’s streets will be lit entirely by LEDs.

Montague Center is the only portion of town not yet equipped with LED streetlights, according to Assistant Town Administrator Walter Ramsey. The lighting district serves 130 households.

“It’s a very small special district,” Ramsey said. “It doesn’t really have the ability to bond to pay for something like this, so the town, earlier when the grant application was being made, agreed to kind of help them out with their request to make this transition to energy efficiency.”

Once operational, the lighting is expected to reduce energy consumption by 81% and translate to a cost savings of $6,762 in its first year, Ramsey projected. He added that the project should pay itself off in about 7.7 years.

“It should be a smooth project that we’ll get started on right away,” Ramsey said.

Inspection vehicle

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Montague is looking to purchase a hybrid vehicle, as well as an accompanying charging station, to be shared by the Health Department, building inspector and assessor as needed for inspections.

According to Ramsey, the town has a “strong desire” for an all-wheel-drive vehicle, preferably an SUV. Town officials will watch the state’s bid list for a favorable purchase opportunity.

“Honestly, there’s not much available on the lots right now, so we might have to wait a little bit, but at least now we can get the order in,” Ramsey said.

The town will draw from a $52,500 appropriation made at March’s Special Town Meeting to supplement the $10,000 Green Communities grant funding allocation as needed.

Solar panels

ACE Solar will install a 75-kilowatt ballasted photovoltaic system atop the roof of the Town Hall annex. This system, which will be owned outright by the town, will translate to an estimated cost savings of $16,381 in the first year, increasing to around $23,000 by the 20th year, according to Ramsey. The project is expected to pay itself off in about seven years.

The $192,930 bid by ACE Solar was the only one the town received, but Ramsey assured that it was “an advantageous proposal” by a company that is, “by all accounts, a reputable firm.” The project will be funded by previously appropriated American Rescue Plan Act funding in the amount of $205,000.

With the bid now awarded, ACE Solar must begin the preliminary engineering phase, which includes filing an interconnection permit with Eversource, conducting a structural analysis of the roof and developing the system design.

“The project will not proceed to implementation until this initial phase has been completed to the satisfaction of the Selectboard,” Ramsey wrote to the board.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.