Summer solar panel work scheduled for middle schools, Hatton School in Southington
By Jesse Buchanan, Record-Journal staff, myrecordjournal.com
SOUTHINGTON — Work is scheduled to begin this summer on roof-mounted solar panels for the middle schools and a ground-mounted solar farm for Hatton School.
They’re the latest in what town officials hope will be a host of other solar power generating projects, including the new senior center and the town’s old landfill.
“I am beyond excited for this next stage,” said Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio, a Republican. “We’ll be well on our way to becoming the greenest town in Connecticut.”
DePaolo and Kennedy middle schools were renovated last year. The roofs of both schools were designed to accommodate solar panels. Work will begin in the summer and be completed at the beginning of the next school year, according to a statement released by Greenskies Renewable Energy.
The Middletown-based company will build and operate the panels and sell power to the town as part of a 20-year power purchase agreement. Each school will get about 500 solar panels generating nearly 200,000 kilowatt hours per year.
Plantsville and South End both have solar panel arrays that generate power for those schools. Hatton School had a solar array planned but construction was delayed by protests and a lawsuit from neighbors over development on a meadow behind the school.
The town won the lawsuit and Riccio said it could have proceeded with the original plan to build the entire solar array in a field behind Hatton. To accommodate neighbors’ concerns about the loss of the field, he said, more efficient panels will be used to reduce the array’s footprint and some panels will be moved to the roof.
Panel design has improved since the plans were first made.
“The technology on those panels changes every day,” Riccio said.
Southington High School’s roof is too cluttered with air conditioning units to accommodate solar panels, he noted. He’s planning for solar panels at other elementary schools, as well as town buildings and land.
In 2014, the Town Council voted to choose Greenskies as the town’s solar energy vendor. Seven councilors voted in favor of Greenskies, with one abstention.
Greenskies was chosen after interviews with several companies, and was recommended by Town Manager Garry Brumback.
Brian Goralski, Board of Education chairman, said he supported any efforts to increase renewable energy at the schools and save energy costs. He said the school district’s administration will work with the town on completing the project quickly.
“I look forward to any collaboration with the town,” Goralski said. “I hope that communication starts very soon.”