School solar panels are energized
The solar panels on the roofs of Miller-Driscoll and Middlebrook schools are just one step away from being put into service. Their installation has been approved by the town building inspector and Eversource gave permission for them to be energized on March 2. The final step is for the Connecticut Green Bank, which has invested in the project, to give the go-ahead to “flip the switch,” Mark Robbins, founder and president of MHR Development, told The Bulletin on Tuesday. He expects that permission within a few days.
The panels are expected to supply about 300 kW of renewable energy to each school, about 38% to 40% of their energy needs, Robbins said. When the two schools, along with Wilton High School are on line, the solar panels will produce about 1 megawatt of electricity, enough to serve 80 to 100 homes.
MHR Development of Norwalk managed the interagency approvals and developed the request for proposals for installation, which was done by Windward Solar. MHR also negotiated the price of energy that the solar system produces to achieve a 78% price reduction over what the schools currently pay.
The schools will pay approximately 2.5 cents per kWh, a dramatic decrease from the 12 cents per KWh they pay now.
According to a press release from MHR, projections show this system will save more than $2.5 million during the 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The savings could be even greater, Robbins said, as electricity prices increase. The solar energy facility is financed through the sale of electricity to the school along with renewable energy credits (ZRECs) and tax credits.
There will also be an environmental benefit. There will be an estimated 538 metric tons of carbon dioxide offset annually by the schools. The solar array is also expected to increase the longevity of the schools’ roofs and provide a slight cooling effect in summer as more heat is absorbed by the panels and less by the building itself.
Plans are still in the works for solar arrays at Cider Mill and Wilton High School, which already benefits from solar panels installed several years ago.