South Windsor school board OKs solar panel arrays

Journal Inquirer | Vin Gallo
October 29, 2019

SOUTH WINDSOR — The Board of Education last week unanimously approved a plan to add solar panel arrays to the roofs of Philip R. Smith, Orchard Hill, and Wapping elementary school buildings.

The board also approved outfitting Eli Terry and South Windsor High School with solar panels, contingent upon the award of Eversource-sponsored Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Credit, before the end of 2020.

South Windsor will not own the panels and they will be installed and maintained by a third party. There will be no cost to taxpayers to install the panels, which are expected to save the town $1.45 million over 25 years.

According to TitanGen of Rocky Hill, the town’s partner in attaining the energy credits, Philip R. Smith can save as much as $9,500 in energy on a 115-kilowatt system. Orchard Hill’s system would be 305 kilowatts and can potentially save up to $25,000 in energy, while Wapping at 137 kilowatts can save as much as $23,500. Combined annually, the three schools can save the town as much as $58,000 on its energy bill, officials say.

This is predicated on the variable price of prevailing energy use over time. The solar panels should cut the cost of power for every kilowatt generated by over half, which will be a fixed price for over a 25-year period, officials say.

TitanGen General Manager Adam Teff said that the panels would not cost the schools any out-of-pocket expenses.

“This is approximately $1.5 million in savings over 25 years,” Board of Education Chairman Craig Zimmerman said at the meeting, referencing the town’s energy savings without paying a steep cost.

“We talk about win-wins? I’m not sure anything can be more of a win-win than this,” he added.

Greenskies Renewable Energy out of Middletown is the vendor on the project.

Installation of the panels at the three schools would be completed by the end of the summer of 2020. The panels would be mounted on the flat roof areas of the schools.

Once the power purchase agreement is finalized, Greenskies will hire a third party to inspect the anticipated placement sites.

This past summer TitanGen secured the credits through a state and Eversource-sponsored subsidy. They have 18 months to use those credits. Although TitanGen applied for energy credits for two additional schools — the high school and Eli Terry — approval was given only to Philip R. Smith, Orchard Hill, and Wapping.

Teff told the school board last week that the Eli Terry and high school projects required a slightly higher bid. Competition was high, and the town was not selected for those two schools. The town can reapply in 2020, however.

As a result, implementing solar panels on all town schools would take place in two phases, local school officials said.

“Two of the more important things we can do for this next generation is move towards renewable energy, but also reduce the amount of money we’re going to burn in the next 10 years down the line,” school board member Art Adduci said.