Middletown Council Approves Solar Project For Water Treatment Facility

Published January 07, 2014
SHAWN R. BEALS, sbeals@courant.com, The Hartford Courant

MIDDLETOWN — The common council has approved a deal with a local solar energy company to install solar panels at the Higby Water Treatment Facility.

Under the contract approved Monday night, Greenskies Renewable Energy would build a solar array near the Mount Higby Reservoir that would provide 100 percent of the power needed for the facility during daytime operations.

The deal is projected to save the city $359,000 on electricity costs over a 20-year contract.

"The city simply agrees to buy 100 percent of the energy produced, and it's at a rate less than they would pay to the utility company," said Greenskies Vice President Andrew Chester.

Chester said the company has begun engineering work on the project, and expects the solar array to be installed by late spring. Greenskies is financing the project under

Connecticut Light & Power's ZREC program, which gives renewable energy credits for commercial energy generation projects.

With ZREC credits, a 15-year program, the city is expected to save between $19,000 and $22,000 per year on electric bills at the Higby facility. After the 15-year ZREC program expires, savings will be about $10,000 per year on electric bills, Chester said.

The Higby contract is the second major solar power project Greenskies is building for the city. In July, the council unanimously approved a deal for Greenskies to install solar panels on the roof of the Remington Rand building at 180 Johnson St.

The Remington Rand panels are expected to produce about 40 percent of the building's energy needs. Chester said roof work is underway, and solar panels will be installed in the spring.

Water and Sewer Director Guy Russo said the project at Higby will not be visible from Route 66. The equipment will be installed on an unused field adjacent to the water treatment facility, which treats water from the reservoir to supply the city's drinking water.

Mayor Daniel Drew said the plan will "eliminate the carbon footprint of the Higby facility" while generating its energy needs.

"We're taking a major energy-consuming asset and we're going to be powering it with renewable energy," Drew said. "We're eliminating the electricity costs of that facility for the taxpayers."

The Higby facility and other water and sewer facilities are some of the largest energy consumers in the city, he said, making the savings a boon for taxpayers.

"With the amount of electricity you use cleaning water, I can't overstate how substantial that is," Drew said.