Middle School Site of New Solar Electrical System

As Seen in Voices News.

by Linda Zukauskas
Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 1:21 PM EDT

NEWTOWN — First Selectman Pat Llodra led a group of dignitaries and residents to celebrate the new solar panel electrical system Thursday, July 11, at Newtown Middle School.

The system will produce approximately 200,000 kWh annually, which amounts to 30 percent of the school’s usage.

Altus Power Management, Old Greenwich, invested $600,000 to own and operate the system, which was installed by Sound Solar Systems, LLC.

The town will purchase electricity produced by the panels at a 20 percent discount for the next 20 years.

Tony Savino, co-founder of Sound Solar Systems, Old Greenwich, explained that the project represents collaboration between citizens, local and state government.

He said, “Without the 30 percent tax credit and accelerated depreciation, this project does not work [financially].”

While the town of Newtown cannot take advantage of these incentives, it can benefit from a working relationship with the private sector, which is eligible.

“When we all get together, we have a 179 kWh system,” Mr. Savino said.

State Economic Development Director Robert Michalik, Jr., noted the project goes beyond the economic benefits by providing both environmental and educational advantages.

“This is a win, win, win and I commend everyone involved,” he said.

Ms. Llodra described the middle school solar project as the second public/private project in Newtown.

“I believe we are leaders in Connecticut,” she said, “and I am proud.”

Although the town has not paid any money for these projects, the school and solar panel array at the town’s waste water treatment plant represent an investment of $1.5 million.

The first selectman noted that new legislation might allow the town to look at brownfields as potential sites for solar farms.

“We really only have just begun to diversify the energy mix in Connecticut.”

She added, “It’s appropriate this is taking place at a school.”

Ms. Llodra described the challenge of educating those who will lead in the future by communicating behaviors and actions to influence them.

There will be a link on the town web page to encourage students to track savings that result from the solar panels.

Ms. Llodra asked members of the Newtown Sustainable Energy Commission to stand and recognized their efforts in keeping the town focused on green, affordable and smart projects.

“I thank you personally for that.”

The panels cover several of the school’s roofs and are expected to prevent CO2 emissions equivalent to 15,000 gallons of gasoline and offset the greenhouse gas emissions from 31 passenger vehicles.

The town could save $150,000 over the next two decades.