Community Calendar

Community Artists Program
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Charlestown

Critter Puppet Adventures
10 a.m. - Midnight Charlestown

Cruise Night
5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Ashaway

Time, Tide & Water at ACGOW
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Westerly

Summer Concert Series
7 p.m. - 8 p.m. Charlestown

Shakespeare in Hollywood
8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Westerly

RI Blood Drive
9 a.m. - Noon Wyoming

Misquamicut Drive-In Movie
9 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Misquamicut

Charlestown Farmers’ Market
9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Charlestown

Free Electronic Drop Off Event
9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Charlestown

... View all of today's events

Stay Connected
Friends to Follow


Richmond considers tax break for solar array

RICHMOND — The Town Council has asked Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth to draft an ordinance that would give the developer of the town’s first solar energy project a substantial tax reduction.

Richmond Solar LLC’s proposed project, approved by the Planning Board in May, would consist of 1,660 photovoltaic panels to be installed on 4.4 acres of a 6.8-acre parcel on Stilson Road near Interstate 95. The panels would generate about 600,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power 100 homes.

Richmond Solar already has a 15-year contract to sell the power to National Grid, and said it intends to begin construction in the fall.

The land is leased from John Aiello Jr. of North Providence, the managing partner of Richmond Realty Associates, which also owns the 550-acre Richmond Commons development.

At the July 15 council meeting, project developer Palmer Moore proposed a tax stabilization plan in which his company would pay the town a fixed $3,000 per year for 15 years on its $1.5 million in equipment or tangible assets. Taxes on those assets would normally be about $29,000 per year.

The deal would apply only to equipment. Richmond Solar would continue to pay property taxes at the town’s regular rate of $19.76 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $4,500 per year at the current rate.

Legislation passed in June expands Rhode Island’s “distributed generation” program to encourage the development of renewable energy, locking in long-term contracts for solar power with National Grid and enabling municipalities to offer tax breaks to solar energy developers.

Palmer’s attorney, Anthony Gallone, said, “The Rhode Island legislature deemed renewable energy so important that they passed a special statute just dealing with renewable energy projects, allowing municipalities to exempt them from taxation. For this specific reason, knowing that the upfront costs on these solar energy projects are so prohibitive, cities and towns need to do something as far as ordinances are concerned in order to attract renewable energy projects to their communities.”

Moore explained told the council that “it’s critical for us to be able to identify variables like taxes to get an investor to come on board with us and make this project real. That’s the only way these projects can happen, because they take an awful lot of money upfront and the rates of return are not very much.”

Council Vice President Henry Oppenheimer summed up Moore’s request.

“Fundamentally, in terms of the equipment, he’s asking for 90 percent off,” he said.

Council President B. Joseph Reddish pointed out that the project will not use municipal services or facilities and will be an asset to the town.

“We get a project in town that’s progressive, that generates renewable energy, and we get $3,000 more in taxes without a whole lot of effort,” he said.

Several residents said they supported the proposed tax break, but one, Dick Millar, said he wasn’t convinced.

“I have seriously mixed feelings on that. If I was going to go into a project like this, I think I would work out the figures. Why should we suffer because their costs are high?” he asked.

Oppenheimer said the town could choose to pass an ordinance granting the tax stabilization, or risk losing the project, and $3,000 a year. “If we just say no, they will not build it, because the economics of it, in the present market, they’re not going to break even on it,” he said.

Council members voted unanimously to draft an ordinance allowing the tax deal, and present it to residents for their approval at a public hearing. @CynthiaDrummon4

Back to LatestNews
Top Stories of the Week

9 arrested, 22 cited in North Stonington spot check …
NORTH STONINGTON — State troopers arrested nine people and cited 22 others following a concentrated enforcement Saturday along Route 2. Connecticut State Police said the … more ...

Councilor seeks review of Ritacco’s actions on zoning board …
WESTERLY — A member of the Town Council is asking the council to initiate proceedings aimed at removing Zoning Board of Review Chairman Robert Ritacco … more ...

Police logs: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 …
Westerly Jane M. Haubner, 66, of 107 Brookside Ave., Apt. 8, Pawcatuck, was charged Friday on a bench warrant issued from 4th District Court. Leonidas … more ...

Stonington High alumnus Toole plays NBA draft pick for a …
STONINGTON — Stonington High School graduate Connor Toole became an NBA draftee last week, but not exactly. An editor and comedy writer for Elite Daily, … more ...

O’Loughlin suit set to go to trial in September …
PROVIDENCE — A federal jury will decide whether three Westerly police officers are responsible for the 2011 death of a Mystic man who died about … more ...