Solar Power Proposal Could Save Middletown $400K A Year

Published December 20, 2011
By Shawn R. Beals,, The Hartford Courant

MIDDLETOWN — — The common council is scheduled to meet Wednesday night to consider a solar power proposal that could save the city $400,000 a year in energy costs.

Local solar company Greenskies Renewable Energy will offer the city a low 20-year fixed energy price in exchange for the use of city land on which to build three solar panel systems, at no cost to the city.

Planning Director William Warner said if the council approves the plan, Greenskies would build a solar array at the city landfill and two other sites to be determined. The city would buy 30 percent of its power from the company at 0.06 cents per kilowatt-hour. The city currently buys its electricity at about 0.15 cents per kWh, which includes a 0.08 electricity rate and transmission charges.

"If we can lock in for 20 years, that's potentially a big benefit to us," Warner said. "It's environmentally friendly and economically it makes good sense. From what we know right now it's too good to pass up." 

Warner said the city has hired an attorney who specializes in energy to review the proposal before the council votes. 

Greenskies CEO Michael Silvestrini said Monday that state legislation that went into effect in July has "created a favorable environment to develop solar energy in Connecticut."

His company, which is based in the RiteAid building at 10 Main St., is a solar power plant developer that works with large companies, universities and municipalities on solar projects.

"Our electricity is significantly more cost-effective that grid-based electricity," Silvestrini said. "The city stands to save a sginificant portion of its energy bill. We get a lot of 'too good to be true' type of responses, but this just makes good sense."

Silvestrini said the capped landfill site is ideal because it will "turn that otherwise useless, dormant parcel into electricity savings and green energy."

The company will have to seek approvals from the Inland Wetland and Watercourses Agency and the Planning and Zoning Commission to build the solar panels.

Mayor Daniel Drew said solar energy is a cost savings opportunity for the city. He said taxpayers and businesses would see benefits from the plan.