School solar project takes step forward

NAUGATUCK — The borough is one step closer to installing solar panels on the roof of City Hill Middle School.

The Board of Education this month approved architectural plans for the solar panel project. The borough is working with Woodbridge-based Advanced Energy Efficiencies on the project.

According to Adam Burkitt, managing partner with Advanced Energy Efficiencies, the proposal is to install 760 solar panels on the school’s roof. The panels will cover about 85% of the roof, he said.

“All usable space will be covered within compliance of proper access for firefighters and mechanical workers for heating, ventilation and air conditioning,” Burkitt said.

The project is estimated to cost $710,000, according to the architectural plans done by the firm Silver Petrucelli & Associates.

The borough is planning to pay for the solar panels through the five-year capital fund and use bond money set aside for improvements, Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.

The state will reimburse the borough 75% of eligible costs, since the solar project coincides with a project to replace the roof at the middle school. Work to replace the roof started earlier this summer. The $1.21 million project is expected to be finished by the end of the month and the project is on budget, Executive Assistant to the Mayor Jim McGrath said.

Burkitt said the solar panels are expected to produce 350,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. He said the electricity generated will be used for the school. He estimates the borough will net a savings of $70,000 the first year and then the savings will gradually increase.

City Hill Middle School’s electricity bill last year was $220,667.

Burkitt said the borough will also receive a quarterly payment from Eversource Energy through the Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) program. The program, which has a life of 15 years, is designed to incentivize businesses, institutions and municipalities to produce clean energy.

The architectural plans have to be reviewed by the state and the project has to go out to bid.

Burkitt said the plan is for the solar panels to be operational by the end of next June. He said the solar panels will have a 25-year warranty and the power inverters will have a 20-year warranty. The lifespan of the system is more than 25 years, he said.