School roof, solar projects on tap in borough

The roof of City Hill Middle School in Naugatuck will be replaced this summer. Officials are also working on a project to install solar panels on the roof. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — Two school roof projects are on tap for this summer in the borough.

The larger project of the two is replacing City Hill Middle School’s roughly 60,000-square-foot roof. The Board of Mayor and Burgesses June 26 awarded a contract for $1,213,000 to Hamden-based Young Developers, LLC, which submitted the lowest bid, to replace the roof.

The state is expected to reimburse the borough 75% of the project’s cost, according to officials. The work is slated to be substantially complete by Aug. 16, the contract states. If it’s not, the borough can assess liquidated damages against Young Developers, the contract states.

Along with replacing the roof, officials are working with Advanced Energy Efficiencies, LLC out of Woodbridge on a project to install solar panels on City Hill’s new roof.

Adam Burkitt, managing partner with Advanced Energy Efficiencies, said the plan is to put solar panels on about three-quarters of the roof with 100% of the electricity generated going to the school.

How the borough goes about the solar project is still to be determined.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said purchasing the panels is the most effective way for the borough to get the best bang for its buck. However, this depends on whether the state will give the borough some reimbursement for the project.

According to Hess, municipalities can only qualify for state reimbursement on solar projects if they are done simultaneously with a school roof project.

The borough’s reimbursement application for the roof replacement didn’t include the solar project. Officials are now moving forward with applying for state funds for the solar project and seeking permission to treat the two projects as simultaneous.

The borough board approved a $5,300 contract with Hamden-based Silver/Petrucelli and Associates to prepare specifications for the solar project.

The solar project is estimated to cost $800,000. If the state agrees to provide reimbursement for the project, the borough’s share is estimated at $200,000.

If the state denies reimbursement for the project, Hess said the borough will look into a power purchase agreement for the panels. The borough wouldn’t own the panels, he said, but would still get the benefits of a solar project.

Burkitt said Advanced Energy Efficiencies applied for the state’s Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) Program on behalf of Naugatuck.

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 intended to save the buyers money.

Burkitt said the company expects to hear on or about Friday whether the state accepted the ZREC application.

The solar project planned for City Hill comes at a time when officials are still dealing with the ramifications of failing solar panels built into Naugatuck High School’s roof.

Officials discovered earlier this year that the solar panels built into Naugatuck High’s roof when it was replaced about nine years ago weren’t working properly and disconnected them. Officials said at the first the entire roof needed to be replaced after initial inspections, but later determined the panels could be removed and any holes patched instead of replacing the whole roof.

The borough is paying Silver/Petrucelli and Associates $17,300 to prepare documents to go out to bid for a company to remove the panels and patch the roof. How much the project will cost won’t be known until bids are submitted.

The money for the roof projects will come from the borough’s five-year capital project fund, officials said. The fund is replenished when the borough receives reimbursements on eligible projects.

Hess emphasized the solar panels planned for City Hill’s roof, which will sit on the roof, are different than the ones that failed on Naugatuck High’s roof.

“What happened at Naugatuck High School was directly related to a new technology that was experimental in nature and failed. The design was such that it was built into the roof and difficult to disentangle without impacting the roof. We did find a way to disentangle it, but the technology failed,” Hess said. “The technologies that we’re now implementing have proven to be successful on a large scale, national basis and are proven commodities to save money and to reduce our carbon footprint.”