Log In


Reset Password
  • MENU
    Local News
    Friday, June 21, 2024

    Solar panels installed at Groton Middle, Mystic River Magnet Schools

    After attending the ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, May 10, 2024, at Groton Middle School, people take a look at the solar panels located on the roof of the fourth floor of the school. Solar panels were also installed at Mystic River Magnet School. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    From left, Groton Middle School Assistant Principal Jemal Davis; Sam Kilpatrick, the school district’s director of buildings and grounds; Superintendent of Schools Susan Austin; Board of Education member Matthew Shulman; and Mystic River Magnet School Principal Steven Wheeler react during the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, May 10 2024, in the main electrical room at Groton Middle School for the solar panels that were installed at the school and at Mystic River Magnet School. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    The solar panels located on the roof of the second floor of Groton Middle School. In the background is the school’s sports field that has new LED lights. Solar panels were also installed at Mystic River Magnet School. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    After attending the ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, May 10, 2024, at Groton Middle School people took a look at the solar panels located on the roof of the first floor of the school. Solar panels were also installed at Mystic River Magnet School. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints

    Groton ― School, town and energy officials cheered Friday afternoon as Town Mayor Rachael Franco ceremonially flipped the switch in the electrical room for the new solar panel system at Groton Middle School.

    The recently installed solar panels at Groton Middle School and Mystic River Magnet School, financed under a Connecticut Green Bank program, are expected to save the district about $40,000 a year in energy costs and nearly $800,000 over 20 years, said Superintendent of Schools Susan Austin.

    The officials celebrated the installation of the two systems at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the middle school and took a look at the middle school’s roof-top solar panel system.

    Austin said the school district always wanted to make the new schools built as part of the Groton 2020 plan energy efficient ― and is entertaining potential solar projects at other schools in the district.

    “If we could do it for all of our schools, that would really take us into the future, and it would keep our environment cleaner,” Austin said.

    Project Manager Rick Norris with Groton Public Schools said the solar photovoltaic (PV) systems will produce about 30 to 40% of the energy for each of the school buildings.

    The 560 panels on the roof of Groton Middle School have a 230 kW capacity, and the 256 panels on the roof of Mystic River Magnet School have a 100 kW capacity, according to a news release from the Connecticut Green Bank, a quasi-public state agency that provides financing for clean energy and environmental infrastructure projects.

    The Connecticut Green Bank contracted with Verogy, the solar installer, to build the systems, said Emily Basham, associate director of the Connecticut Green Bank. CSW Energy provided technical assistance for the projects.

    The Connecticut Green Bank signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Groton Public Schools in which the solar panels were installed at no up-front costs to the school districts, and the schools will purchase the solar energy at a discounted rate, Basham said. The Connecticut Green Bank, which owns the solar panels, is responsible for operating and maintaining the systems.

    In addition to these two projects, the Board of Education also is exploring with the Connecticut Green Bank installing carport solar projects at Robert E. Fitch High School and at Mystic River Magnet School, Norris said.

    The Board of Education also is considering solar energy as part of a planned roof project at Charles Barnum Elementary School, Austin said.

    The Connecticut Green Bank program is available to customers in Eversource and United Illuminating areas, said Basham.

    Norris and Sam Kilpatrick, director of buildings and grounds for the school district, said Charles Barnum and Thames River Magnet School, another new school built under the Groton 2020 plan where the school district hopes to install a solar project in the future, are in the Groton Utilities’ area. If the Board of Education pursued projects there, it would need to fund them, but the state now provides about 60% reimbursement to solar projects. The state was not providing that reimbursement at the time the schools were built.

    Kilpatrick said the school district is looking forward to the savings from the solar panels at Groton Middle School and Mystic River Magnet School and the benefits to the environment, as well as for students to be involved in the projects as an educational tool in the future.

    The officials on Friday also celebrated switching on the new 70-foot-tall LED lights at the middle school’s turf field, a separate project that the Town Council approved from leftover funds from the middle school construction project.

    k.drelich@theday.com

    Editor’s note: this story has been updated to correct the first name of Rick Norris.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.