Borough looking to put solar panels on school’s roof

NAUGATUCK — The borough is moving forward with a plan to install solar panels on the roof of Maple Hill Elementary School through a state program.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses this month voted to allow the Greenwich-based Davis Hill Development LLC to apply for a grant to install solar panels on the roof of Maple Hill Elementary School under state’s Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) Program.

Under the program, the state pays companies a set rate for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of power generated. The companies then sell the energy to their clients, in this case the borough, under a power purchase agreement.

In order for the project to move forward, the state needs to approve the company’s application. Robert Butler, the borough’s purchasing and financial analyst, said the company has submitted the application. He expects it will take a few weeks to get an answer.

If the company receives the grant, Butler said the borough would enter into a 20-year agreement with Davis Hills Development. The contract would have to go before officials again for approval.

The energy, which would be used at Maple Hill, generated from the solar array would be sold to the borough at a rate of 7 cents per kilowatt hour, Butler said.

Butler estimated the Board of Education could save up to $500,000 over the life over the contract.

The solar panels would cover about 60 percent of Maple Hill’s roof, Butler said. Under the agreement, he said, the company would install and maintain the solar array at no cost to the borough.

The borough would take ownership of the solar panels after the life of the contract, Butler said.

“We are committing the school to 20 years, but in the end the panels are ours. We get all the benefits at that point,” Butler said.

Butler said officials looked at schools for this project because they are the largest buildings with flat roofs. He said Maple Hill was chosen because its roof was replaced just over two years ago.

“The idea was to put it on a fairly new roof, so it wouldn’t have to be removed to replace the roof,” Butler said.