Voters will consider ways to save money and the environment during the town's 13-article special town meeting Thursday, 7 pm in the gym at the Community Center.
The main reason for the meeting is to adjust the town and school budgets as required and expected after state budget cuts. But several energy projects will also be on the warrant.
If voters sign on, the town will pursue building 2 wind turbines on town-owned land, placing large solar panels on the elementary school roof and placing a "solar garden" of panels at the transfer station.
By installing the 2 turbines, the town could save $274,000 in the first year of operation, according to a study by the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative, which would lease the turbine sites from the town. The nonprofit, tax-exempt agency was created to help member towns, including Harwich, develop renewable energy projects to stabilize electric rates.
Most of the savings would be in a $174,109 cut in the town's electric bill, now $922,470 a year, The rest — $50,000 a turbine — would come from rent the cooperative pays to Harwich.
The town still needs to get necessary permits and state approval for the use of the water department land. As the first step, voters are being asked to authorize the lease of turbine sites on 72 acres off Westgate Road and 19 acres off Headwaters Drive.
The school committee also is working with the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative on a solar project at no cost to the town. The project would expand the solar panels on the roof of the Harwich Elementary School and cut electricity costs.
A third project — leasing space on the town's capped landfill for solar panels — is also in its first steps. Luke Hinkle of My Generation Energy of Brewster is asking to lease space at the capped landfill off Queen Anne Road for 800 to 900 panels. The finance committee has voted against the project, but the selectmen are interested enough to pursue it, if voters agree. The state also must approve the use, and the town must ensure the landfill cap is protected.