New Solar Array Powers Middletown's Remington Rand Building

City Officials Say Deal With Greenskies Cuts Costs, Improves The Environment And Helps Economic Development

By Shawn R. Beals

August 21, 2014


MIDDLETOWN — A new solar roof is expected to provide more than 90 percent of the needed power at the Remington Rand building, officials said Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting event.

About 1,000 solar panels were installed on the roof of the building this year by Middletown-based Greenskies Renewable Energy. The system will save the city money on its electric bills, and will also generate personal property tax revenue of $189,000 over the life of the 20-year contract.

"We're working with a local company on a new energy project that is reducing the carbon footprint of this building and reducing costs for the taxpayers," said Mayor Daniel Drew.

Greenskies installed a badly needed new roof on the building as part of the deal, saving the city more than $500,000 in roof replacement costs and opening up additional space on the second floor to rent out to small businesses. The city pays Greenskies for the building's electricity use.

Since acquiring the Remington Rand building, 180 Johnson St., in 2000 through tax foreclosure, the city has created a small business incubator program that now has 24 tenants with more than 50 employees. Environmental cleanup at the site has been in progress for several years, and the city has periodically renovated portions of the building and installed new windows throughout the first floor.

"Every dollar the city has invested in the building has been returned, and it's now funding our economic development initiatives," said Planning Director Michiel Wackers.

The city said that by increasing the amount of available space in the building, rental income will continue to rise.

The building was constructed in 1896, and past tenants have included the Remington Noiseless Typewriter Co. and the Keating Wheel Co. The building's original developer, in 1896, was Robert M. Keating, who invented the modern baseball home plate at the building and developed early motorcycles. Bicycles, electric automobiles and rocket-guided missiles were all manufactured in the building at various times.

Greenskies Executive Vice President Andrew Chester said in addition to generating energy, the project helps to modernize the building. He said the solar array will generate on average about 93 percent of the building's energy needs.

"To see a 120-year-old building with lively startup businesses in it and a solar roof really brings the history full circle," Chester said.

Greenskies is a sister company of Centerplan Companies, which was recently hired by the city to do a development study of Metro Square. Greenskies is also a tenant in the Remington Rand building, using some space for storage and staging of its equipment.