Milford school system closer to solar

MILFORD >> The school system is making the move to solar energy as part of its ongoing initiative for energy conservation, and in keeping with the city’s direction.

James Richetelli Jr., chief operations officer for the district, said solar will be part of a three-way partnership between the Board of Education, the city and Davis Hill Development LLC of New York.

The Board of Education soon will ask the Board of Aldermen to approve the lease of school roofs, solar company DHD will install the panels, and CT Green Bank will sell the electricity to the schools at a savings.

Mayor Benjamin G. Blake, a major supporter of programs that reduce the carbon footprint and save money, said the city is moving in the same direction on its buildings, but installation of solar panels requires roofs in top shape, so in many cases they are in the roof-replacement phase. Installation of solar panels has begun at the public library.

The city recently was honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for its Energy Star rating, which it has in more buildings than any other municipality.

For its work on energy efficiency, the city and schools have realized about $650,000 in energy savings and were awarded a combined $735,000 in incentives to upgrade efficient lighting and control systems, Blake said.

“It’s good for the environment and it’s good for the taxpayers’ pocketbooks,” Blake said.

Richetelli said it is not known how much money will be saved, but rough estimates indicate there could be a $3.4 million savings in energy costs over 20 years.

The board will seek approval from the city within the next couple of months — as the city owns the buildings — and the first schools to go solar will be Jonathan Law and Foran high schools, East Shore Middle School and Mathewson Elementary School.

The school system began its push for energy conservation in 2010, under a four-year contract with Cenergistic. Part of that push included physical energy-saving measures, as well as education to change usage habits to create an energy conservation culture, officials said. All 14 schools are Energy Star rated.

According to a PowerPoint presentation given at a recent Board of Education meeting, from Jan. 11, 2011, to June 2016, the net savings for the district was $1.9 million.

The goal, according to the presentation, is to have solar on the roofs of all 14 city schools within two years.

There are no upfront capital costs to the school system and the developer will install and maintain the solar units.

District officials chose eight nationwide developers, narrowed it to five firms to be interviewed, and then did a second interview with two finalists. DHD was chosen for its depth of experience, strong recommendations and “strong financial backing” from Connecticut Green Bank, according to the presentation.