By TAYLOR HARTZ
Plans to promote green energy in town will continue this summer with solar panels being added at both middle schools. Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School and John F. Kennedy Middle School will both have solar panel arrays installed on their rooftops by Greenskies Renewable Energy in Middletown.
“Our goal is to try to get as many renewable energy sources as we can throughout town,” said Town Manager Garry Brumback, who said the solar installations benefit the town both environmentally and economically.
“The town of Southington is certainly supportive of solar power,” said Town Attorney Mark Sciota, “I agree with the council that it’s a great idea for the town.”
Brumback said that the contract for the two middle schools is the same contract that the town has previously agreed to with Greenskies when the Town Council voted to select the Middletown company as their solar power vendor in 2014.
Greenskies will be responsible for the design, development, construction, and maintenance of the solar installations at no cost to the town. Over a period of 20 years, the town will purchase the energy generated by the installations from Greenskies.
Similar designs have already been put in place by Greenskies at Plantsville Elementary School, South End Elementary School, and Hatton Elementary School.
“The two solar installations will generate a combined total of about 650 kilowatts of electric energy that will be used to offset a major portion of each school’s electricity usage and cost,” said James Desantos, Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations for Greenskies in a company press release.
Brumback said that, although the middle school designs are still in the works, the town is saving an average of 35 to 40 percent on electricity costs per school.
“Our next priority is Hatton, and then as we’re able we’d like to get as many up and running as possible,” said Brumback.
At Hatton, the solar array will be split between the rooftop and a neighboring field, known by some as Hatton Meadow. The goal is to have the Hatton, JFK, and DePaolo installations completed prior to the start of the 2016 school year.
“It’s very difficult and much less efficient to try to develop them while school is in session,” said Brumback.
Town officials hope construction will begin early this summer. Town Council Chairman Mike Riccio said the new additions take Southington “another step to becoming the greenest town in Connecticut.”