News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 8, 2020
Penobscot receives donated generator

by Eli Forman

At their weekly meeting on Tuesday, October 6, the Penobscot Selectmen accepted a donation of a 35 kw generator from Penobscot resident Jeff Berzinis.

The generator has 301 hours, runs a V8 5.7 Chevy engine and would be intended to power the Penobscot Community School in the event of a prolonged power outage.

Berzinis acquired the generator from old municipal stock in New Hampshire, and was inspired to donate it to the town after seeing how much it would cost the town to purchase a new one, he said.

“This town’s been good to me, it raised my kids and a lot of other kids,” Berzinis told the selectmen.

At Penobscot’s Town Meeting last March, voters added $10,000 to a reserve account to begin saving for the eventual purchase of a generator.

According to Chairman of the Penobscot Select Board Harold Hatch, that money will now most likely be used to set up the donated generator and get it connected to the school and potentially the firehouse as well.

This could include repainting the generator, pouring a concrete slab for it to rest on and installing a new transfer switch.

“Then we don’t have to raise money again,” said Hatch.

Any money not used from the reserve account amount would go back to the town, said Hatch.

The selectmen intend to inform the school committee about the donated generator at the committee’s next meeting and will work with Penobscot Community School Principal Jay Corbin to determine a suitable location on school grounds for it.

In other news, the selectmen voted to further explore entering into a contract with New Hampshire based Revision Energy to provide solar electricity generation for municipal buildings and streetlights.

Penobscot resident and former Maine Maritime Academy Professor Tom Adamo brought the proposal to the town, in which Revision Energy would provide a flat 15 percent discount per kilowatt hour regardless of fluctuating electricity prices, all without the upfront cost of constructing a solar array in town.

The solar array providing power to Penobscot could be constructed as far away as Belfast, said Selectman Phillip Rapp.

Penobscot, and other towns with similar contracts, would simply be buying a share in a certain amount of electricity fed into the existing grid from solar arrays built by Revision Energy and located across the state.

According to Hatch, preliminary numbers suggest a potential savings to the town of approximately $3,700.

Other area towns including Castine, Blue Hill and Deer Isle are considering similar proposals, and Brooksville has already signed a 20-year contract with Revision Energy.

For Penobscot, the next step, said Hatch, is getting the town’s legal counsel to examine the terms of the contract and make a final recommendation.