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Morristown eyes solar power

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MORRISTOWN — A joint venture between the town and village councils may see solar power coming to Morristown.

The project, geared toward delivering affordable electricity to municipal buildings, would include a 50-kilowatt solar array installed near the village that could save up to $7,700 a year in electricity costs.

The town and village councils are awaiting more information before spending money on the project or entering into a contract, Mayor Cheryl A. Shatraw said.

Jason A. Clark, of Clark Consulting Group, Norfolk, said the project, which would be engineered by C2AE, Canton, would be the first in the region to feature fundraising as a crucial component of a municipal solar power project.

Mr. Clark, speaking at Monday’s year-end meeting, outlined his vision for a project that is funded in part by federal and state grants and a low-interest loan and with the help of donors.

With an estimated price tag of $186,000, Mr. Clark said, the project could qualify for grants through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the federal Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

And while the town and village could not directly raise funds, local nonprofits such as the Morristown Public Library and the Morristown and Brier Hill Volunteer Fire Departments could fundraise on behalf of the project, Mr. Clark said.

In its first year of operation, he said, he expects the total electric bill for the town and village will be cut by $570, and within seven or eight years, after they pay off any loans they take out, they will be saving up to $7,700 a year.

Because the solar arrays have lifespans of up to 40 years, Mr. Clark said, the long-term savings are significant.

Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said the Town Council “would like to proceed with what is possible.”

Mr. Putman and Mrs. Shatraw were both cautious, noting the project costs could be prohibitive. “It is preliminary right now,” Mrs. Shatraw said.

Mr. Clark and engineers with C2AE are working on a fundraising plan and determining exactly what kinds of savings the town could expect to see if it goes ahead with the project.

Mrs. Shatraw said she expects more discussion of the project in February, adding that the results of the preliminary study, which is being carried out free of charge, will determine “if it’s even worthwhile for us to do.”

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