First Selectman’s December 2012 Newsletter
A welcome sight greeted drivers whose daily commute takes them over the Walnut Hill bridge: Except for a little bit of cosmetic work, it’s done! Sight lines have been improved at the base of the hill, the bridge is wider to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians with greater safety and the roadway has been raised to prevent flooding.
Construction preparation is under way at the other Walnut Hill bridge near the intersection of Taylor Road.
Road work for 2012 season completed.
Year No. 2 of the four-year Road Recovery Project has drawn to a close for the season. Only one planned road reconstruction, Diamond Avenue, was forced off the schedule by Superstorm Sandy. That one will be added to next season’s schedule when construction resumes this spring, 2013. Roads completed this year include Aunt Patty’s West, Williams, McNeil, Castle Hill, Adams, Buff, Partridge, Wooster, Keeler, Cawley, Hearthstone and North Hearthstone. The roads remaining on the four-year project will be reevaluated for wear and deterioration during the winter months. The construction list for 2013 will be announced as part of the upcoming budget process.
Solar Farm on “hold,”For now…
Readers may recall the announcement more than a year ago about our plans to install a “farm” of solar panels at the town’s transfer station. Bethel was poised to take advantage of the states new “net metering” law, which would allow municipalities to set up renewable energy generation systems that “sell” electricity back into the grid, thereby reducing the town’s energy costs. The cost of the installation was to be covered through a third-party power purchase agreement, which would allow the solar panels to be installed at zero cost to Bethel taxpayers. The energy cost savings would be shared with the third-party provider.
Unfortunately, a recent decision by P.U.R.A. (Public Utility Regulatory Authority, the state’s utility regulator) determined that the new net metering law does not apply to third-party agreements. In order to be eligible to take advantage of net metering, Bethel and several other towns with similar plans under way would have to own their own equipment, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Clearly, this was not what the legislature intended. Attorneys for P.U.R.A. have sent the net metering law back to the state legislature with a request that it be amended to allow third-party power purchase agreements. There is strong bipartisan support for this in Hartford, and we are hopeful that this flaw can be corrected during the new legislative session that begins in January and put our solar farm project back on track.
As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. Please call or stop by for a cup of coffee.
Matthew S. Knickerbocker First Selectman
The hours of the CJH Municipal Center are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Municipal Center Will be closed Monday, December 24th & Tuesday, December 25th in honor of Christmas.