Borough awards bid to remove solar panels

Solar panels built into the Naugatuck High School roof are pictured in 2011. The panels failed this year, and the borough has hired a New Haven company to remove them. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVES

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials have hired a New Haven-based company to remove solar panels built into the roof of Naugatuck High School, with the hope and expectation that doing so will mean the borough won’t have to install a new roof for about 10 more years.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses awarded the bid to remove the panels and patch the roof to G.L. Capasso, Inc. for $183,540 during a special meeting July 30. The work is expected to be substantially complete before school begins late this month.

Officials discovered earlier this year that the solar panels built into Naugatuck High’s roof when it was replaced about ten years ago failed. The panels cover much of the roof.

Officials initially thought the entire roof had to be replaced, at an estimated cost of $4.5 million. It was later determined the panels could be removed and any holes patched instead of replacing the roof.

Officials thought a rubber membrane on the roof covered everything and the membrane would have to be torn up to remove the solar panels, ruining the roof. However, a membrane was placed across the roof before the solar panels were installed, and then a second membrane was used to seal the solar panels in place, officials previously said.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said it was G.L. Capasso, which was the only company to bid on the job, that brought it to the borough’s attention that the panels could be removed without replacing the roof.

G.L. Capasso tested the process in May by removing one panel.

“They are to me the company that is most qualified to do the work,” Hess said.

The money for the work will come from the borough’s five-year capital project fund, Controller Allyson Bruce said.

Hess said removing the panels and repairing the roof is expected to give the roof another 10 years, when it would be about 20 years old and the borough could receive the full eligible amount of state reimbursement for installing a new roof.

As officials determined how to proceed after discovering that the panels had failed, the borough applied for state reimbursement in anticipation of replacing the roof. The state has accepted the project, Hess said. If the repair job works, the roof won’t be replaced and the state will evaluate whether to reimburse the borough any money, he said.

“Our hope and expectation is that we’re not going to have to complete the project and install a new roof, but if we do the project is already in place,” Hess said.