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Plan to install solar panels at Stonington sewer plants still alive

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Stonington — The town continues to negotiate with a Middletown firm that wants to install hundreds of solar panels at the borough and Pawcatuck sewer treatment plants, that is predicted to save the town as much as $1.4 million in electricity costs over 20 years.

Last September, the Water Pollution Control Authority agreed to negotiate an agreement with Greenskies, the firm proposing the project.

At the time, Greenskies said it would take a month or two to negotiate the agreement and then another three to four months to design the project. At that point, Greenskies would be ready to submit an application to the borough Planning and Zoning Commission.

But so far no application has been filed.

Greenskies and its public relations firm did not respond to questions about the status of the project over the past week but WPCA Director Douglas Nettleton said Wednesday the town and Greenskies continue to discuss details of the contract.

He said Greenskies has been busy with a large solar project elsewhere in the state and there was language in the existing contract between the town and the firm that operates the plants that was complicating the negotiations.

He said he recently spoke to Ryan Linares, the business development project manager for Greenskies, who is going to review some concerns about the contract.

“It’s been a slow process. But mostly because everyone has been busy and there’s been a few legal issues,” he said. “But the board still wants to proceed.”

According to the original plan, the town would not have to invest any money in the project, as Greenskies would pay all the costs to install the $1.5 million in panels.

The town then would save an estimated $535,758 in electricity costs at the Pawcatuck plant, which, combined with savings at the borough plant of $334,037, would generate almost $870,000 in estimated savings over 20 years. And because Greenskies has made conservative estimates about the price of electricity during that time, WPCA officials say the savings could rise to $1.4 million or more.

Greenskies, meanwhile, earns its money by obtaining and selling electricity and clean energy tax credits. An earlier WPCA decision to offer its nonbinding support to the plan allowed Greenskies to apply for state energy credits.

Authority members have said they have an obligation to the ratepayers to support a project that could save money.

The installation of the 500 panels at the borough plant would encompass almost all of the enclosed grassy area that surrounds the plant and would end its use as a park. A buffer of trees would be planted to screen the panels from view.

The 900 panels planned for the Pawcatuck plant on Mary Hall Road would not infringe on the portion of the site that the Pawcatuck Little League uses for team practice.


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