South Windsor schools using power of the sun to save money

Hartford Courant | Peter Marteka
October 27, 2019

Solar panels will be placed on the roofs of three school buildings that could save South Windsor Public Schools up to $1.5 million over the 25-year lifespan of the system.

By the end of summer 2020, there will be hundreds of new panels on the new Philip R. Smith and Orchard Hill elementary schools and the former Wapping School. The school system worked with TitanGen, a division of Rocky Hill-based Titan Energy New England, successfully applying for Zero Emission Renewal Energy Credits (ZREC), a state and Eversource-sponsored subsidy, to install solar panels and arrays at the schools.

The school system hoped to get credits to include South Windsor High School and the new Eli Terry Elementary School, but will have to wait until the next funding round. The $1.5 million in savings doesn’t include potential savings from the eventual installation of panels at the high school and Eli Terry.

According to Adam Teff, general manager of TitanGen, there were many applications for the funding.

“The competition was incredibly fierce,” he said, adding they will re-apply for the high school and Eli Terry next year.

Under the plan, municipalities and school districts don’t own the panels when placed on their buildings. The panels would be installed, owned and maintained by a third party, with the town benefiting from the electricity savings. Greenskies Renewable Energy will do the installation over the summer.

“I’m a big fan,” board of education member Arthur Adduci said. “Two of the more important things we can do for this next generation is move toward renewable energy, but also reduce the amount of money we are going to burden them with 10-15 years down the line.”

Teff said there is “zero out-of-pocket" expenses for the school system.

“It is $1.5 million in savings, and we basically do nothing,” school board Chairman Craig Zimmerman said. “And we are saving energy, and we are doing what’s right. We talk about win-win, and I’m not sure anything could be more of a win-win than this.”