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STM to consider funding requests

November 11, 2012

BLACKSTONE — Voters at Wednesday’s Special Town Meeting will consider an 11-article warrant that includes proposals to fund a solar photovoltaic energy-generating facility at the Blackstone Landfill; an elevator at the Municipal Office Building; and a feasibility/preliminary architectural study for a new senior center and recreational facility.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Blackstone-Millville Regional Molony-Sullivan School auditorium, 175 Lincoln St.
Article 6, submitted by selectmen, asks voters to appropriate, transfer or borrow $4,300,000 for the design, construction and installation of a solar photovoltaic energy-generating facility at the Blackstone Landfill property on Mendon Street. The power generated would directly offset the town's energy expenses while also returning the landfill – inactive since 2003 – to productive use.
Photovoltaics is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. Some materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect, which causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these free electrons are captured, an electric current results that can be used as electricity.
The photoelectric effect was first noted by a French physicist, Edmund Becquerel, in 1839, who found that certain materials would produce small amounts of electric current when exposed to light.
In 1905, Albert Einstein described the nature of light and the photoelectric effect on which photovoltaic technology is based, for which he later won a Nobel prize in physics. The first photovoltaic module was built by Bell Laboratories in 1954. It was billed as a solar battery and was mostly just a curiosity as it was too expensive to gain widespread use. In the 1960s, the space industry began to make the first serious use of the technology to provide power aboard spacecraft. Through the space programs, the technology advanced, its reliability was established, and the cost began to decline.
During the energy crisis in the 1970s, photovoltaic technology gained recognition as a source of power for non-space applications.
Elsewhere, Article 12 asks voters to raise and appropriate $27,500 to pay for the acquisition and maintenance of a hydraulic vertical platform lift for the Municipal Office Building to meet Americans with Disabilities’ Act and Architectural Access Board mandates.
Article 4 asks voters to approve the $225,000 purchase of two used GVWR refuse collection body trucks, while Article 5 seeks $125,000 in funding to purchase operating equipment for the recycling facility on Chestnut Street.
Article 7 asks voters to consider appropriating $75,000 for a feasibility study and preliminary architectural study for a new senior center and recreational facility, and Article 10 considers establishing a program to allow persons over the age of 60 to volunteer to provide services to the town. In exchange for those volunteer services, the town would reduce the person's tax bill by an amount not to exceed $1,000 in a given tax year.
Article 11 asks voters to consider establishing a similar program for veterans.

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