Hearing set for solar panel plan

Town officials are preparing the background work for a public hearing April 17 on an ambitious solar electricity-generating plan that could save the town as much as $2.3 million over the next 20 years.

The plan is to install solar panels on the roofs at Miller-Driscoll School, Middlebrook School and possibly Wilton High School. The solar arrays would be owned, installed and maintained by a solar vendor who would sell solar-generated electricity to the town for 20 years at fixed rates that are lower than current and expected electric rates.

The hearing is set for 7:30 p.m. at town hall.

A slide presentation on the details is on the town website. It shows that approvals would be obtained to ensure that the installation of panels and frames will not void the roofs’ warranties and work would be performed when students are not in school. Allowances have been made for cloudy days, snow days and nighttimes.

On sunny days the panels would act like an umbrella and reduce the air conditioning requirement of the buildings.

Nine bids have been received from vendors who want to produce the project. They responded to requests for proposals.

A vendor would be selected based on bid price, expertise and financial viability, according to the presentation materials.

The town would have the option to purchase the arrays at the end of the 20 years or have the equipment removed at the vendor’s expense. If need be, equipment could be removed and reinstalled to allow for roof replacements.

The Board of Selectmen is expected to take action on the plan on May 1.

If approved, installations will take place at Miller-Driscoll and Middlebrook this summer. The roofs would be generating solar power by October. Installation at the high school, which already has solar panels, will be discussed at a future date.