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Hanover approves $29.8 million budget, OKs solar power agreements



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

HANOVER — Voters on Tuesday night approved $29.8 million in municipal spending. In a unanimous voice vote from the floor, voters also authorized the Selectboard to enter into electric power purchase agreements with solar installers.

The spending, which includes some capital projects from reserve funds, marks a 5.3% increase from the current fiscal year’s. The proposed general fund budget is $16.8 million, which represents a 9.2% increase over fiscal year 2019.

The tax rate is expected to go up by 9 cents per $1,000, or $36 for a house valued at $400,000.

“This is an unusual year,” said Selectboard Chairman Peter Christie. “Almost all of our non-tax fee revenues are going up.”

That includes building permit fees from several Dartmouth College projects.

Tuesday’s results helped move the town toward in its goal of using 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2030. Next year’s budget includes a heat pump system for the police station and community center, Christie said, but a big step was allowing electric power purchase agreements.

In such an agreement, solar companies would install, own and maintain one or more solar systems on town-owned buildings or land. The Selectboard also will be able to grant leases and easement for access to the locations of these systems.

The purchase agreements allow large consumers — like a town or big business — to lock in a power rate for a long period of time, from 12 to 20 years.

“We have the potential to install up to 3 megawatts of ground-mounted solar on the property that we own immediately adjacent to water filtration plant on Grasse Road,” Town Manager Julia Griffin said.

She noted that 3 megawatts a year is about what municipal facilities use, not including the school district.

With the power purchase agreement, the town could decide down the line to purchase the array from the developer at a reduced cost.

“From our perspective, it’s a flexible way for the town to solarize,” Griffin said.

Two zoning amendments were on the ballot this year. One changed definitions concerning senior housing and passed with 342 votes in favor.

A definition for “persons with disabilities” would be added, and the definition of senior housing development would include inhabitants who are “at least” 62 instead of 62 years of age or older.

Last summer, Hanover approved Twin Pines Housing Trust’s proposal to build a 24-unit apartment complex for seniors and people with disabilities.

The second zoning amendment to change the zoning district of 59-61 Lyme Road failed, 244-108.

Athos Rassias ran uncontested for another three-year term on the Selectboard, and Kathleen Chaimberg won a three-year term on the Etna Library trustee board.

Daniela Vidal Allee can be reached at dallee@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.