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Solar Panels Installed at Two Schools

The installation of solar panels on the roofs of both Smalley Academy and Smith Elementary School was recently completed by national solar power firm SolarCity, which has a local office in Rocky Hill.

“They were completed within the last couple of weeks,” said Raymond L. Moore, Chief Facilities and Special Projects Officer for the Consolidated School District of New Britain, last week. “They started in November/December and finished in January, and right now they are just doing the fine tuning and waiting for CL&P approval to interconnect the solar panels to the CL&P electrical grid.”

The panels installed at Smith and Smalley are just the beginning of a city plan to outfit eight schools in all with solar panels and save money in the process. “Eight of our schools have been designated by the city to have SolarCity install solar panels,” said Moore. “The other schools are Chamberlain, DiLoreto, Holmes, Jefferson, Pulaski and Slade.”

The city will have the ability to save money because of a “power purchase agreement” it has entered into with SolarCity, according to Moore.

“Those panels cost millions of dollars for the installation at each school so in order for us to own them—we don’t have the money to pay for those panels—we entered into a power purchase agreement with SolarCity,” explained Moore. “SolarCity generates the power, supplies it to New Britain and we have a contract with them that our utility bills don’t change until there is enough money generated to pay for the installation of those panels; and, once we pay those panels off, then the City of New Britain owns those panels on the roof.”

While the panels are being paid off by the city—which Moore said will take about seven or eight years—the city will see savings as a result of “no increases in our electric bill and we will benefit from some reduced cost of our electric bill; there is some reduction in the annual electrical cost.”

Moore praised the work SolarCity, which has headquarters in California and Nevada, has done thus far. “They are very professional, their communication is outstanding and their work quality has been great,” he said.

Up next for SolarCity in the Hardware City’s schools is DiLoreto Magnet School. “They are just starting the installation at DiLoreto School,” said Moore. “They are just mobilizing for DiLoreto so they aren’t going to finish that one until April or May.”

SolarCity is also planning to examine the roofs of the other five schools, according to Moore. “Then what they will do is they’re analyzing the age of the roofs and determining whether or not it’s feasible to put solar panels on those roofs based on the age of those roofs,” he noted.

“The science experiment is over with solar energy,” said Michael P. Frawley, Northeast Direct Manager for SolarCity. “SolarCity provides homeowners a choice on where they get their energy. Cleaner, cheaper power from the sun or, dirty more expensive power from CT’s utilities (which are the highest in the continental US). Homes that are able to qualify, pay only for the power in which their system produces, not for the entire system. With the equipment being warrantied, it’s a no brainer.”