By Lindsay Carey
The Town Council heard from representatives from a few energy companies regarding plans to make Southington a greener environment and in the process save a few tax dollars at an energy summit led by Assistant Town Engineer Annette Turnquist Monday night.
“We are the first town in the state of Connecticut to be pushing forward the food energy initiative, which is going to be a state mandate coming in several years,” said Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio.
A representative from Noresco, an energy services company, explained how the company conducted an energy audit of all of the town buildings and discussed the savings that would be realized by the town should it pursue energy saving projects.
In working with companies like Greenskies, a company that installs solar panels to generate electricity, and Turning Earth, which will build an anaerobic digestion plant for food waste, the town will realize a savings of about $959,374 a year.
According to Town Manager Gary Brumback, this will significantly cut into the current $3 million allotment for energy expenses and ultimately benefit taxpayers.
The council’s Energy Committee found Greenskies as they were seeking out companies that would be able to generate energy for the town. Turnquist said that the committee was looking for a solar company that would be able to handle the project from design to installation.
Greenskies created a plan for Plantsville Elementary School, Hatton Elementary School, South End Elementary School and the Old Turnpike Landfill.
James DeSantos, from Greenskies, shared an update on their plans for each of these projects. According to DeSantos, the engineering for the two ground mounted engineering solar arrays at Hatton and South End has begun, permitting will be handled over the winter and construction will begin during the summer of 2015 when school is not in session.
Amy McCrae Kessler spoke for Turning Earth, an integrated organics recycling company that is building a $20 million organics recycling facility to convert organic food waste, green waste and woody waste into renewable energy compost and create heat for greenhouses so that fresh vegetables can go into local stores throughout the winter.
The facility will divert waste from landfills and extract energy through anaerobic digestion to make electricity with combined heat and power units.
According to Kessler, this project will bring in tax revenue, high quality jobs and help the town to meet sustainability objectives. She also shared how she views the town of Southington as a business partner.
“We went out into several communities to look for the perfect community partner,” said Kessler. “I have never worked with a community that has been so open and accepting, and as wonderfully helpful, as the community of Southington.
Several other business leaders commended Southington for their effort to be greener and set an example for other towns.
“As you can imagine this is complicated stuff and it is not something that most towns have organic capability to perform,” said Town Manager Gary Brumback said as he thanked Turnquit for her work on the energy summit.
After all of the companies finished giving their presentations, Town Councilwoman Victoria Triano presented the Council, Town Manager and Town Attorney with green t-shirts that say “Southington Goes Green.”
“I think we can officially brand Southington as the greenest community in the state of Connecticut,” said Riccio.
By Lindsay Carey