FinCom weighs in on solar storage ahead of Special Town Meeting

May 1, 2024

By Betsy Levinson — 

With one abstention, the Finance Committee voted to support affirmative action on Article 1 of Wednesday night’s special Town Meeting, which asks voters to approve $10.4 million for a new solar storage battery. 

“There is some urgency driven by” the surprising decision to close MCI-Concord, said incoming FinCom Chair Eric Dahlberg. 

Acquiring the 5MW battery has been on the town’s radar, according to Brian Foulds, chair of the Concord Municipal Light Plant Board, but the state’s decision to relocate the prison population and leave the 53-acre property galvanized the board to buy the storage capability for the energy unused by the prison and to allow for the expansion of solar energy use by local homeowners and businesses. 

Foulds said ratepayers would see a saving after the first two years of the loan when funds from the federal Inflation Reduction Act become available. 

He said if the article passes, the light plant board would issue an RFP (request for proposals) and potentially put a plan together quickly. 

“We want to get on this fast,” said Foulds. 


FinCom members generally favored the article, but expressed “a level of uncertainty,” said Dee Ortner, with the lack of a well thought-out plan giving specifics such as timing, funding, location and a Plan B if the vote does not pass. 

“When will there be a plan I could look at?” asked Ortner, the lone member to abstain from voting affirmatively.  

Interim Municipal Light Plant Director Jason Bulger said he can take the next steps once the town approves the funding. 

“Once we have the dollars, we will know more,” he said. “Until we have a bid, it’s all hypothetical.”  

FinCom Chair Parashar Patel asked for a plan as early as June that would lay out what comes next and what the “flow” of the project would be, assuming a positive vote. 

Ortner asked Foulds about a backup plan if the vote did not pass. Foulds said the size of the battery would be reduced. 

“It’s not desirable, but it’s manageable if we are forced to reduce,” said Foulds. 

Town Meeting resumes at Concord-Carlisle High School at 7 p.m.

A town survey on attendance at the annual legislative proceeding can be found here.