School board awards bid for solar project

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

NAUGATUCK — A solar panel array on the roof of City Hill Middle School is expected to be up and running in the fall.

The Board of Education on Feb. 11 awarded a contract to WC McBride Electrical for $550,416 to install the solar panels. The Bridgeport-based company submitted the lowest of five bids for the work.

Adam Burkitt, managing partner with Advanced Energy Efficiencies, said 723 panels will be installed on the roof. The work is slated to start May 15. He said construction is expected to finish by August. Officials plan to have the solar panels operational by the end of September, he said.

The solar panels will have a 25-year warranty, Burkitt said. The lifespan of the system is more than 25 years, he said.

The solar panels are expected to save about $38,000 in electricity costs the first year their operational and the savings are expected to gradually increase, Burkitt said.

Borough officials initiated this project in 2019. Officials planned the project to coincide with a project to replace the school roof last year.

Burkitt said the delay stemmed from the project going through the Department of Administrative Services for review as well as additional work needed to prepare for the installation, including ensuring the roof was ready and reviewing the electrical system.

“We wanted to make sure they were ready for the installers,” Burkitt said.

Since the borough tied the solar panel project with the roof project, Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the state will reimburse the borough 75% of eligible costs. The remainder will be paid through the five-year capital fund, Hess said.

The borough will also receive a quarterly payment from Eversource Energy through the Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) program. The program is designed to incentivize businesses, institutions and municipalities to produce clean energy. The borough will receive $27,500 annually under the program, which has a life of 15 years, according to Burkitt.

Advanced Energy Efficiencies, a Woodbridge-based firm, has consulted and worked with the borough on several green energy projects. The firm is also working with the borough on projects to put solar panels on the roofs of Naugatuck High School and Andrew Avenue Elementary School.

“We’re working with the mayor and superintendent of schools to move Naugatuck to one of the communities that will be one of the greenest in terms of the environment in the state,” said Gary Hale, managing partner of Advanced Energy Efficiencies.