Council hires energy contractor; Investigating possible sites for solar power

June 6, 2014

By Lisa Capobianco
Staff Writer
The Town Council voted unanimously to approve an energy company looking to install solar panels on several sites in Southington.
Town Manager Garry Brumback said the project would take advantage of some sites currently not being used to generate power with the hopes of saving utility costs. During a recent meeting, Brumback recommended the council to choose Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC, a Connecticut-based solar integrator that specializes in solar financing, system design, project implementation, system monitoring and maintenance. The Council voted 7 to 0 in favor of choosing Greenskies.
“I think it’s an extraordinary testimony to our motto, the ‘city of progress,’” said Brumback. “We’re seeing it in reusing property that is otherwise not being used.”
Centerplan Construction Company LLC serves as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) partner of Greenskies. Centerplan handles both construction management and actual performance on site, between breaking ground and commissioning.
“We would be entering into a 20-year contract where no upfront costs of money would be required—you’d be saving roughly half of what you’re currently paying in electrical rates and we summarized the total savings over the 20-year process,” said Andrew Chester, the principal of Greenskies.
During a presentation to the council, Chester noted three proposed school sites for solar installations, including Plantsville Elementary School, Hatton School and South End School. The installation at Plantsville School would be located on the rooftop and the remaining installations (at Hatton and South End Schools) would be mounted on the ground. The installation at South End School would be located on town-owned property.
“Whether it’s on the roof or the ground, we are installing a solar panel that sits on some form of racking, and we are tying the power into the distribution network of that facility,” said Chester, adding that his company has spoken with school administrators about the sites. “It’s called a behind-the-meter solar installation…that facility physically uses the power after it’s created.”
Chester said the solar installation at Plantsville School would bring savings of $414,024 over the course of the contract. At Hatton and South End Schools, the solar panels would bring a total of $850,017 in savings, Chester added.
Chester said the fourth proposed site, the Old Turnpike Landfill on Old Turnpike Road, would include a “virtual net metering.” Under this project, the meter would be installed on the ground, and would bring a total savings of $1,347,184.
“A meter would be installed where the power would flow through and the meter would spin backwards,” said Chester. “You get credits for the power that is generated at that site, and the town can elect up to five beneficial counts to then send those metered credits to.”
After construction is completed for each project, Greenskies would be responsible for the entire maintenance and upkeep of the new installations. Chester said the company has 24-hour monitoring equipment to track production.
“That monitoring can also be linked to your town website, to schools where it can be put on televisions and teachers can discuss through imagery of the actual facility itself,” said Chester, who later commented that Greenskies would consider upgrading technology as it develops if doing so making sense economically. “We do have two annual check-ups, but it’s also monitored live, so the emergency service can be done in a timely manner.”

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