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Town officials are considering a plan to put solar panels on the roof at Avon High School.
(Ken Byron / April 3, 2014)
Avon, CT, USA
The Hartford Courant
8:37 a.m. EDT, April 3, 2014
AVON — A plan to put solar panels on the roofs of two school buildings received a generally positive reception when town and school officials reviewed it on Wednesday.
The plan to put the panels on top of Avon Middle School and Avon High School has been in the works since the winter. The town council is scheduled to vote on the idea when it meets at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday while the board of education is expected to do the same later this month.
Members of the council and the school board were given an overview of the plan from staff at a joint meeting on Wednesday.
The proposal is to enter into a 15-year contract with the California-based SolarCity. That company would install and maintain the panels at no cost to the town. In return, the town would buy electricity that the panels generate. Town Manager Brandon Robertson said on Wednesday he expects getting electricty from the panels would cost less than buying it from traditional sources and could save the town $350,000 during the time of the contract.
Robertson and Superintendent of Schools Gary Mala said they see no disadvantages in pursuing the plan with SolarCity.
“It seems like an obviously good choice for the town to embark on this,” council member Douglas Evans said.
No one voiced opposition to the proposal, but there were some questions from school board members. Board member Jeff Bernetich asked if the town should fund the project itself, rather than work with a private company that is looking to make money on the deal.
“I want this to happen, I just don’t want us to get hosed,” Bernetich said.
Officials who have vetted the proposal said they do not think there would be substantial savings if the town purchased, installed and maintained the panels itself.
“They are not ripping the town off,” town energy commission member Bernard Zahren said about the deal with SolarCity. The energy commission has advocated for using solar panels.
Saving money is just one reason why town officials are looking at solar power. Last year, the town committed to using less energy but also to getting more of what it uses from renewable sources.
“These panels will go a long way toward meeting that goal,” Robertson said.
Mala said the agreement with SolarCity has benefits beyond providing cheaper and cleaner electricty. He said SolarCity discussed the possibility of internships for students and using the panels for instruction.
“SolarCity was the only vendor that was able to elaborate on how the panels could be integrated with students and the curriculum,” Mala said. “They offered a flexibility that the others did not entertain.”
Tonight’s council meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in the selectmen’s chambers in town hall. The board of education is expected to act on the proposal when it meets on April 22.
Copyright © 2014, The Hartford Courant
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