Committee to explore alternative energy

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NAUGATUCK — Officials have formed a committee to determine whether Naugatuck could benefit from putting solar panels and other forms of alternative energy in the borough.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week discussed forming a subcommittee to explore all options. Burgess Bob Neth, who spearheaded the effort to put solar panels on the roof at Naugatuck High School, will head the committee. Burgess Alexander Olbrys and Mayor Robert Mezzo said they want to get on board, too.

“We want to look at all forms of renewable energy, including solar and possibly wind, fuel cells and others,” Neth said.

The committee will consider what several area communities are exploring — placing solar panels on their former landfills. The borough will look at whether it is feasible to put a solar farm on the former Laurel Park Landfill on Andrew Mountain or on the former Uniroyal property off Cherry Street. Both of those properties are privately owned.

Neth said the committee has asked borough attorney Edward “Ned” Fitzpatrick to “analyze and review how to proceed” with putting solar panels on those two properties.
Meanwhile, the committee will explore other locations.

Southbury is currently exploring putting a solar farm on an old landfill on Kettletown Road. Jordan Energy of Troy, N.Y., has proposed putting rows of solar panels there to generate electricity, and claims the project will save taxpayers $2 million over the next 20 years. Ansonia and Derby have generated revenue from their old dumps with solar farms.

And earlier this month, the Beacon Falls Board of Selectmen voted to pursue the installation and use of solar energy panels on town-owned property along Lopus Road. Beacon Falls is also working with Jordan Energy.

Southbury is hoping to take advantage of the state’s renewable energy program, which is administered by Eversource Energy and United Illuminating, which help communities find qualified companies to install the solar panels. The utilities then pay the companies for the electricity the panels generate, and the towns get a credit on their electric bills for their five largest buildings in exchange for providing panel space.

Mezzo said the borough is looking to take a more proactive approach in finding where solar energy and other alternative energy is viable in the borough.

“There are a variety of different initiatives that sound interesting,” he said. “We need to learn a little more about the details, and that is what this committee will do.”