Lyme-Old Lyme school district considering solar panels for next year

Old Lyme — The Lyme-Old Lyme school district is working to negotiate an agreement to install solar panels on all of the district's five buildings by the start of the next school year.

Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser said the project is still in the "investigative phase" but the school board has authorized school officials to negotiate an agreement with Greenskies Renewable Energy, one of the larger solar installers in the northeast. 

He said that, if approved by the school board, the district would enter into a power purchase agreement with Greenskies and there would be no cost outlay for the installation of the panels. Under the agreement, the company would install, own, maintain and monitor the equipment, while the district would pay for power at a certain rate for a 15-to-20-year period.

Neviaser said the rate and contract details still are under negotiation, but the rate is generally significantly lower than what the district typically pays an energy provider, such as Eversource.

He said the solar panels, once up and running, have the potential to save the district more than $100,000 per year on its electric bills, or more than $2 million over a 20-year period.

In addition to the installation of solar panels on the roofs of its five buildings, the district also is planning on a small ground-mounted system to help power its waste treatment plant, Neviaser said.

He said he plans to bring the rate proposal and contract to the school board for approval at the board's Feb. 7 meeting.

If the board approves the agreement, the plan is to start the project as early as this summer and have the panels ready for the new school year, he said.

Neviaser said the district has been looking at the possibility of solar panels for several years. It has taken other steps to reduce energy costs, including installing geothermal heating at Lyme-Old Lyme High School and replacing between 90 and 95 percent of the lights in the district with LED lights.

"We're always looking at alternate energy sources and ways to lower our energy costs," he said, pointing out that those costs are typically a large driver of any budget.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity for us to continue to go green, reduce our electric costs and model for our students a positive approach to electricity usage,” he added.

k.drelich@theday.com

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