Rest of city schools getting solar panels

Plans to install a final round of solar panels on school buildings were approved last week by city aldermen and the Planning and Zoning Board.

The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously endorsed the idea of installing solar panels on John F. Kennedy, Live Oaks, Meadowside and Orange Avenue elementary schools, along with West Shore Middle School.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea. I think it’s great for Milford to be part of a sustainable movement,” said Jim Quish, P&Z chairman.

The Board of Aldermen also unanimously approved the plan. Although operated by the Board of Education, the buildings are owned by the city.

James Richetelli Jr., chief operations officer for the school district, told the Planning and Zoning Board that the district installed solar panels on four schools in summer 2017: Mathewson and Orchard Hills elementary schools, East Shore Middle School, and Jonathan Law High School.

“This is in line with the city’s initiative to continue whenever we can to put green energy into our buildings,” said Richetelli.

Richetelli said all schools had roofs installed within the last four to five years. Of those schools, eight elementary and two middle schools received new roofs within the last two years. He said the roofs were inspected to determine they could carry the weight of the panels. Further, the panels do not affect the 30-year warranty on the roofs.

At its April 18, 2017 meeting, the board supported a plan to put panels on Calf Pen Meadow, Orchard Hills and Pumpkin Delight elementary schools, along with The Academy and Harborside Middle School.

At its April 4, 2017 meeting, the P&Z approved the idea of panels on Joseph A. Foran and Jonathan Law high schools, East Shore Middle School, and Mathewson Elementary School.

In a Dec. 12, 2016 presentation to the Board of Education, Richetelli said the panels could potentially save the district $3.4 million over the life of the 20-year contract with Davis Hill Development LLC (DHD) of Port Chester, N.Y.,

At the April 4, 2017 meeting, attorney Stephen W. Studer, speaking on behalf of the Board of Education, said there are “no substantial out of pocket costs” to the Board of Education because the developer pays for the installation and maintenance of the panels.

The city agrees to purchase the electricity generated by the panels “at a much lower cost than current rates.” The agreement would last for 20 years, and Studer said the panels have a 25-year lifespan. He said the city was working with a contractor, rather than purchasing the solar panels directly, due to tax incentives available to the for-profit company.