THOMASTON — The Thomaston Select Board voted unanimously to renew the three-year employment contract for Town Manager Kara George at the Monday, Jan. 9 board meeting.

George thanked the board for the decision, and Chair Diane Giese said the town was lucky to have her in the position.

George was offered an initial contract for the position of Thomaston Town Manager on Jan. 13, 2020 after serving as interim town manager starting in September of 2019. This was the first renewal of that 2020 contract.

In August 2020, George received the “Rising Star Award” from Maine Town, City and County Management Association for her work as town manager. The letters of recommendation for the award said George made coming to work enjoyable and was smart, pleasant and exceeded expectations.

George was the Thomaston Town Clerk from 2017 until her 2019 appointment to town manager, and before that worked for the city of Rockland in various municipal roles.

Solar Power

In other business, Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy gave a presentation regarding the town solar electricity systems. This presentation included how many solar systems the town owns, how they function and what benefits the town receives.

Fancy said the town has four solar systems, labeled A through D. These systems were installed from 2010 to 2020 at various locations used by the Pollution Control Department.

Fancy said it was determined Pollution Control would have these systems as this was the department using the most electricity.

System C, located near lagoon one at the wastewater treatment facility, operates under a billing credit agreement with Central Maine Power. This means the array generates power that is monitored by CMP and fed into the power grid.

The town is then issued billing credits for that power, with the value set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

System A, installed on the roof of the pollution control building, and system D, installed on the roof of the public works garage, operate under a kilowatt-hour credit agreement. Fancy said this means the power generated by the solar array is used in that building, and excess power is fed into the electrical grid.

Any power that goes into the grid is then credited to that account as kilowatt-hours.

Fancy also explained the Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs, the town receives from the solar array. These certificates represent 1,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy delivered to the electrical grid, and are able to be sold through a broker.

Fancy suggested the income from Renewable Energy Certificates be invested back into the solar projects for maintenance and general upkeep.

Fancy also explained the economic benefits to the town, which he estimated as a savings of about $50,000 per year from the average electricity cost in 2018 and 2019.

A slide from John Fancy’s Jan. 9 presentation about the cost savings of Thomaston’s solar projects.

Finally, Fancy informed the board about future considerations for the town’s solar array. He suggested the town plan to install more solar panels and replace existing ones, as the town’s electrical usage and the cost of electricity can be expected to continue to rise.

Fancy also suggested the town look into a community solar project, which would allow residents to purchase the electricity Thomaston’s solar array produces.

Fancy said this was a much better deal for Thomaston residents than other solar power companies were offering currently.

Multiple members of the Select Board expressed enthusiasm for a community solar project.

Board member Peter Lammer thanked Fancy for his work on the presentation and the systems themselves. Lammert said it was nice to see all the town solar electricity systems compiled in one document and he appreciated it.

Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services

The Thomaston Police Department received a grant of more than $6,000 from the Midcoast Council of Governments organization, Town Manager George told the board.

This grant was for general police equipment, and George said the Thomaston department planned to use the funds to purchase new laptops to go in the cruisers.

The Fire and Emergency Services committee, which has been tasked with hiring a developer to design a new emergency services building, has scheduled presentations from two companies for consideration. Both presentations are scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19.

Artifex Architects and Engineers, based out of Bangor, will present at 4:30 p.m. Port City Architecture, based out of Portland, will present at 5:30 p.m. The presentations will occur in the Select Board meeting room.

The next Thomaston Select Board meeting is Monday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m.

A full recording of this and other Thomaston meetings can be viewed at: townhallstreams.com/towns/thomaston_me.