Selectmen green light two of three solar proposals
Updated 11:49 am, Thursday, September 17, 2015
Solar panels for the town’s teen/tennis centers on Old Dam Road were approved Wednesday by the Board of Selectmen, but they were not ready to flip the switch on roof-top solar panels at Mill Hill School.
A vote on the Mill Hill School solar panels was postponed until the board’s Oct.7 meeting in order for a clarification of what would happen if the town had to remove the panels before the 20-year agreement expired.
Selectman Sheila Marmion first raised the question in view of the fact that the Board of Education has discussed a future expansion for the elementary school. Marmion wanted to know what would happen if construction required that the panels be moved, or even removed all together.
Sal Morabito, manager of construction, security and safety for the school district, said there are no definitive plans yet for Mill Hill.
“We’ve done expansions with (photo voltaics) in place,” Morabito said. “They kept functioning during construction.” Recent work at Fairfield Woods Middle School was done next to that school’s solar panels. He also said the panels would be going on the newest part of the school that likely wouldn’t be touched during expansion.
Public Works Director Joseph Michaelangelo said the town faced a similar situation when the Fairfield Theatre Co. began renovations of a town-owned warehouse into a performance space. “They were easily moved to make room” for new air conditioning units, he said. “These are pretty flexible units.”
The selectmen, however, preferred to wait and get further clarification from the town attorney.
The project on Old Dam Road consists of three ground-level solar panels installed behind the building and shielded from neighbors with landscaping. A fourth panel was to be installed in the parking lot, but was eliminated because of concerns raised by neighbors.
There will be no capital outlay by the town for either project. Private companies will install and maintain the panels, and in exchange the town would purchase the electricity for those buildings from the vendors at a reduced rate, Michaelangelo said.
“It sounds like a good deal for the town,” Marmion said.
The tennis center solar agreement must also be approved by the Representative Town Meeting because it includes a ground lease. The Mill Hill project needs only the Board of Selectmen’s approval.