Southington Solar Planel Project to Begin this Summer

By Jesse Buchanan Record-Journal staff

May 20, 2015

SOUTHINGTON — A Middletown energy company plans to have solar panel arrays at three elementary schools this summer, cutting energy costs at those schools by 40 to 50 percent.
Greenskies Renewable Energy has a 20-year agreement to provide solar power to the town. It’s also working on putting solar arrays on other town properties such as the Municipal Center, the fire station and the two middle schools.

Solar panels will be mounted on the roof of Plantsville School this summer. James Desantos, a Greenskies executive, said roof mounts are used only when roofs are relatively new. He expects the roofs at the other elementary schools, Hatton and South End, to be replaced in the next five or 10 years.
For those schools, the panels will be ground mounted to avoid disruption when the roof is replaced.
The panels won’t pose a risk to students since electricity is routed in underground conduits. They’ll also be protected from damage.
“The ground-mounted arrays will be entirely fenced in,” Desantos said.
Building the ground mounted systems requires Planning and Zoning Commission approval. On Tuesday the commission tabled applications at Hatton and South End schools to allow Greenskies to finalize plans for landscaping and border areas. Desantos said he hopes for approval at the commission’s next meeting scheduled for June 2.
Pete Romano, the school district’s operations director, said screens will be installed at the schools with a tally of energy generated through solar power. Students will be able to track the daily, monthly and yearly output.
“There’ll be an educational component for the kids,” he said.
Greenskies will own and maintain the solar systems, Desantos said. As part of the agreement the town will buy power from Greenskies. The company also makes money on state and federal credits for renewable energy.
Desantos said the panels are able to produce nearly all the power used by the school. The number of panels range from 476 at Plantsville to 1,054 at Hatton. Unused power, such as that generated on weekends, will be credited to the school and the value deducted from utility bills.
The total cost savings over 20 years is projected to be about $414,000 at Plantsville School, $850,000 at Hatton School and $678,000 at South End School, according to Chester.
Construction on all three solar panel projects is scheduled to be complete by the opening of school in the fall, Desantos said.