Trumbull Local schools looking toward the sky for their energy Solar panels to be installed on roofs at 5 institutions

By Silvia Foster-Frau,

TRUMBULL — They’re the quietest, cleanest, least visible kind of power plants. And they’ll be right over students’ heads.

Greenskies, a national solar developer, will be fixing solar arrays to the roofs of Hillcrest Middle School, Madison Middle School, Frenchtown Elementary School, Daniels Farm School and Trumbull High School this summer. Construction is slated to start in mid-June and end by September.
“It’s a straightforward way of saving the town money by doing the right thing for the environment,” said Mark Deming, the facilities director who spearheaded the project to bring solar arrays to Trumbull schools.

The announcement is part of a larger project by Trumbull schools to invest more in clean energy. Deming said he hopes to expand solar arrays to the rest of the school roofs in town and plans to invest in several energy reduction project as well, including in ­ stalling new boilers, substituting LED lighting and building more efficient automation systems.

"We have a full-scale plan for addressing Trumbull’s energy use," said Deming. To bring in the solar arrays, Trumbull made a solar power purchase agreement with Greenskies, which allows the town to buy electricity at a lower rate while Greenskies gets benefits like the federal solar Investment Tax Credit and the state's Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credits, or ZERECs

"When I got here 18 months ago, the town had already been trying to start up a solar program," Dem­ing said. "So I just basically ran with what they had already laid the groundwork for...

He quickly got the ball rolling, going as far as to secure some ZERECs him­ self, a move usually re­solved for the solar developers to secure.
"The town was unusually proactive," said James De­ santos, Vice President of Development for Green­skies.

The developer then went ahead and brought their engineers to size up the roofs of the buildings, which will have to be rebuilt for the solar arrays. Deming said he resolving two prob­lems in one swoop because roof replacements in these schools are "much-needed." The schools range from a 150 kilowatt system at high school will have about 1,500 individual solar pan­els on its roof.

Deming estimated that those panels will power 15 to 20 percent of the school's total electrical power use. His goal is to get that num­ber up to 25 percent by the end of the year.
The amount of energy the panels save will be dis­played on a monitor in each of the schools.
"It tells them everything from carbon offsets to how many trees saved, or cars taken off the road. It can be

He said in addition to the monitors, teachers will be given URLs to access the live stream of data and graphics online. "Most people, you put it up there and the people forget about it," said Desan­tos. “So, if you're able to see the benefits of it, you're going to pay attention a lot more to it." "Right now, most of our energy comes from fossil fuels and fossil fuels are a finite resource," said Dem­ing. "Hopefully, the sun is not."