City Council Considers Solar Panels on High School Roof

Haverhill School Committeeman-elect and former City Councilor Sven A. Amirian is vice president of business development at MassAmerican Energy, Marlborough.

Haverhill City Councilors are considering a proposal to place solar panels on the roof of Haverhill High School, as proposed by a Marlborough-based company that employs an incoming Haverhill School Committee member. The project could include a “solar carport,” using parking lots.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini will ask councilors tonight for authorization to select MassAmerican Energy, Marlborough, to construct and operate a 2.2 megawatt solar energy array at the high school. The plan calls for a 20-year lease and power purchase/net metering agreement with the city. Under MassAmerican’s proposal, annual lease payments would be $1 plus a $22,000 payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT).

“The financial models and benefits presented (herein) are based on a careful due diligence of the site and the development costs thereof and based on our optimized system design,” MassAmerican Manager A. Quincy Vale said in a proposal to City Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco.

“We have included in such budgets costs to gain and acquire all necessary permits from local, state and federal agencies; a financial assurance mechanism to assure system removal at the end of the lease term; the furnishing of requested construction bonds; an allowance of $80,000 to establish and build an approved utility interconnect and an allowance of $143,000 for all municipal building and electric permit fees,” Vale wrote.

Scenarios range from a straight lease of the high school roof to an energy purchase agreement with or without a 2.5 percent annual escalator. If the city purchases energy from the array, prices would range from 8.75 cents to 13.25 cents per kilowatt hour. Absent such an agreement, MassAmerican would lease the roof space at $110,000 a year and have the option of selling the energy “through the wholesale energy markets to a qualified retail electricity supplier pursuant to a long term wholesale power market purchase agreement.”

The area of the roof where panels would be installed would be upgraded by either re-skinning or replacing it. MassAmerican would also be “ready and capable of providing a beautiful solar carport to utilize the substantial parking areas for solar generation without adversely affecting plowing, safety and other essential functions.”

Haverhill School Committeeman-elect and former City Councilor Sven A. Amirian became vice president of business development at MassAmerican last year after he resigned as president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce. As WHAV reported in May, he has since signed up Veterans Northeast Outreach Center and Haverhill Bank, both of Haverhill, for solar panel installations.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

6 thoughts on “City Council Considers Solar Panels on High School Roof

  1. Never advertised and Amirian makes a commission on the sale? Haverhill residents were fooled, this man ran for school committee to get city contracts. It worked and Haverhill Residents again shortchanged themselves. Did the school committee vote for this since they are in charge of the building?

  2. This sounds like yet ANOTHER scam coming from Orlando Pacheco’s office. Orlando was hired on the basis that he receive a ‘commission’ for the energy reduction in the city. That commission was never made public by mayor Taxman’s office. It’s time someone on the city council demanded answers to what that is!!! In the past few months Pacheco and mayor taxman have made claims that are exaggerated and out right lies.

    It was announced that new lighting at city hall would result in annual savings of $100,000.00 per year. That claim was an outright lie based on the number of kilowatt hours of electricity that would need to be saved.

    Next came the claim by Pacheco and Taxman that a community electricity aggregation program was going to reduce homeowner electricity rates by 30%. The real amount was just 4% but not one person on the city council cared to run the numbers and call Taxman out on his outright lies concerning this program. Pacheco and Taxman make all these claims and absolutely no one questions them on the validity of their information.

    Now we have this proposal. Clearly a conflict of interest being proposed by an elected city official. The amount of information left out of this proposal is staggering. The only reasons solar farm proposals have worked in the last decade is because of Federal Solar Energy Tax Credits provided upon installation. The Federal government is ending those tax credits in 2016.

    The other issue is the fact that the State Legislature has dragged their feet when it comes to Net Metering. Net Metering is the state putting a ‘cap’ on how much electricity can be sold back into the grid by companies like MassAmerican. It allows utility electricity providers to protect their profit margins and the profit on their own generated production.

    Both Federal Tax credits and Net Metering are now a huge disincentive to investment into solar farms. Why would anyone invest in something that just had it’s major incentive taken away and significantly increasing the length of the initial return on investment…and….when government regulation can leave you with no place to sell the product that you are manufacturing?

    What happens to the city if no tax credit is available to offset the investment cost of building this facility? What happens when MassAmerican has a cap set on what they can sell back into the system and their profits don’t meet expectations? You can bet MassAmerican knows exactly what the future looks like and will write into any contracts that the city, not them, get stuck holding the bag financially when this doesn’t work as proposed.

    And until someone on the city council looks into it, you can bet Orlando Pacheco will be getting paid on promises and projections, not credible, verifiable performance.

  3. WOW its all out in the open like its OK? How about a bid process for a few other solar providers.
    Remember Haverhill taxpayers, the high school has mostly flat roofs that leak much earlier and need more maintenance than a slope roof shedding water. You puncture that membrane and all bets are off and the taxpayer loses again as a private company rides off into the sunset again.

  4. “Mayor James J. Fiorentini will ask councilors tonight for authorization to select MassAmerican Energy, Marlborough” –

    Was this publicly advertised for an open and transparent bidding process*?

    *Disclaimer: I voted for Amirian