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Whately gives thumbs up on solar developer tax payment

— A North Andover solar developer has the backing of the townspeople to build a 2.4-megawatt solar array on Long Plain Road.

Townspeople unanimously voted in favor of a payment in lieu of tax agreement with Nexamp, an independent solar power company.

According to the agreement, Nexamp would pay $6,150 per megawatt on a 2.4-megawatt solar array at 345 Long Plain Road in its first year. The payment to the town would escalate each year by 2.5 percent.

Six townspeople voted in favor of the tax agreement. There is no minimum attendance required to hold a town meeting in Whately.

Town Administrator Lynn Sibley explained that the agreement is fair to both the town and solar developer.

“The initial taxes on the property is a huge up-front cost, but it depreciates quickly,” Sibley said. “It may not be as good of an up-front payment, but we’ve spread the cost over 25 years.” The solar array would be located on 9.79 acres of the 200-acre Fairview Farms. Alan Sanderson, owner of Fairview Farms on Long Plain Road, leased the land for 25 years to the solar developer.

Construction is slated to begin in October.

The solar agreement is similar to the agreement with Citizens Energy, a nonprofit that assists people with the purchase of fuel and heating oil. In July 2011, Citizens Energy received a special permit from the town for construction of a 1.5-megawatt solar farm on 14.6 acres at 288 State Road on Szawloski Farms. The nonprofit would lease the land for 25 years with the plan to sell the power to the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction on Elm Street in Greenfield, saving the county jail $40,000.

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