Mark Twain Library: New Solar System by Mid-Summer

As seen in The Redding Pilot

Written by Susan Wolf

The Mark Twain Library is going green with the installation of a 42kW solar system that will provide over a third of its electrical needs for the next couple of decades.

Equipment is expected to arrive this week for a project that has been in the works for close to a year. The solar panels are expected to be fully operational by mid-summer. The effort was initiated by Jake DeSantis, a trustee of the library who has been working with Jennifer Wastrom, another trustee.

“The project takes advantage of various incentives offered by the federal and state governments,” said Janice Meehan, library board president, at Saturday’s annual library meeting.

Santa Energy, a longtime library supporter, is providing the financing for the installation, allowing the library to repay when, and as, savings, are realized, she said.

“From my vantage point, the project speaks for itself,” said Mr. Santa, president and CEO of Santa Energy, on Tuesday. “I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the volunteer leadership of the library, and Santa Energy would like to do whatever it can to support them. We have many customers in Redding, and we want to support them as well.”

Mr. DeSantis explained on Tuesday that Santa Energy will initially own the solar equipment and sell the electricity it generates to the library “for slightly less” than Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) is expected charge over the coming years. The library would continue to buy the rest of its electricity from CL&P.

While it owns the system, Santa Energy would receive zero emission renewable energy credits (ZRECs) from CL&P under a state energy program mandated for both CL&P and United Illuminating.

At the end of roughly six years, said Mr. DeSantis, the power sales to the library along with the value of the ZRECs will have repaid Santa Energy, and the system will be transferred to the library. At that point, the library will own the ZRECs (worth roughly $7,500 per year for 15 years after installation) and the electricity produced. The solar panels are expected to function for at least 20 more years, saving roughly $10,000 per year at projected power prices.

Sound Solar Systems, LLC of Old Greenwich will install the panels. According to the company’s press release, the solar system will produce the equivalent amount of electrical energy to power six homes.

“I am excited about moving forward on a green initiative,” said Ms. Meehan.

“The library is planning programming around the topic of alternate energy sources and going green in the fall,” said Beth Dominianni, library director. “This summer, we are also fortunate to have our two longtime student workers, both entering their junior year in college as engineering majors, to help coordinate additional efforts to increase the library’s sustainability and recycling initiatives.”

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