South Windsor council OKs contracts for school solar panels

Journal Inquirer | Vin Gallo

April 22, 2020

SOUTH WINDSOR — The Town Council on Monday unanimously approved agreements with Greenskies Clear Energy to install solar panels on Wapping, Philip R. Smith, and Orchard Hill elementary schools and, depending on the bid, at the high school and Eli Terry Elementary School as well.

Town Manager Michael Maniscalco and Superintendent Kate Carter will now execute the agreements that officials expect will save the town on its energy bill.

With the solar panels installed, the town estimates a one-year conservative saving of $7,500, and a 25-year total of $187,500 at Philip R. Smith. Orchard Hill should see $20,000 in savings in one year, or $500,000 over 25 years, while Eli Terry would register savings of $15,500 per year and $387,500 over 25 years.

Annually, Wapping and the high school could save the town $18,500 and $50,500, respectively.

Over a 25-year period, savings at Wapping could total $462,500 while the high school may register up to $1,262,000 in the same time span.

Combined, all of the buildings would save the town approximately $112,000 annually on their energy bill and about $2.8 million over a 25-year period.

After initially holding off discussion at its last meeting to consult with the town attorney, the Town Council removed from the table the motion to authorize only the superintendent to execute the contracts for the solar panel project with Greenskies Clear Energy LLC of Middletown.

Town Attorney Kari Olson said at Monday’s meeting that she and Board of Education attorney Tom Mooney reached an agreement to make a slight amendment to the purchase agreement.

“The resolution now authorizes the town manager to execute any documents necessary with Greenskies” to establish the town’s acceptance of the installation of the solar panels on town-owned property, she said.

The energy committee and Board of Education approved the plan in March and October of 2019, respectively. The council concluded that it is in the town’s best interest to support the proposal, based on the projected cost savings and overall benefits for the community, according to the meeting agenda.

Adam Teff, general manager of Rocky Hill-based TitanGen, the town’s partner in the project, said this month that with the power purchase agreement in place, the panels would not be leased and the school district’s sole responsibility would be “to pay for the power created by the array at a price significantly lower than Eversource’s price per kilowatt-hour.” Greenskies would still be the owner and operator of the systems, he added.

Teff said no taxpayer money would be required to install the solar panels, adding that panels would be added to the high school and Eli Terry’s buildings once the town earns additional zero emissions renewable energy credits in a May auction.

Panels on Eli Terry, Philip R. Smith and Orchard Hill could be installed this summer.

If the additional energy credits are awarded, solar panels at Wapping and the high school would be installed next year after roof repairs are done on those buildings, Teff said.