New London's Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School to get new roof, solar panels

New London - The City Council approved a $6.2 million bond package Monday night to install a new roof and solar panels on Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School.

No taxpayer money will be needed because the state will reimburse the city 78 percent of the costs, and cuts to electric bills will save thousands of dollars a year, according to a report by the Capital Region Education Council.

The report states that over the course of 20 years, the city will save around $2.4 million in electricity, which will offset the financing costs for the loan. After six years, the city will start saving thousands of dollars in reduced electric bills, The city has a contract with CREC to oversee the project.

The bonding package includes $3.5 million for the roof that covers the sprawling middle school complex and includes the Central Office. About $1.8 million will be spent on the solar panels, also called a solar photovoltaic system. Another $350,000 will go toward new energy efficiency lighting in the building. The project will include evaluating, planning, designing, constructing, repairing and modifying the roof.

About 1,100 modules will be placed on the roof, according to the report. The roof and the solar panel system are expected to last 25 years.

The city also could see revenue by selling extra power to Connecticut Light & Power.

Repairs to the middle school roof, which is only 20 years old, have been sporadic in the past. The roof is now in total failure, according the report, and has to be replaced.

In 2011, repairing the school's roof was on a list of capital projects. In 2007, the council talked about the need to repair the roof, which had started leaking.

Last year, CREC helped the city address leaking problems at the school, which houses about 600 students in grades six through eight.

In April, it warned the city that its failure to maintain boilers at the middle school could have created a serious fire hazard and pointed to a lack of communication between the city and the school district.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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