Somers continues to pursue solar energy for town buildings

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Somers - posted Fri., May. 20, 2011
New solar energy projects in Somers are in the works after the town received grant funding. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.
New solar energy projects in Somers are in the works after the town received grant funding. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.

The town of Somers is making the most of the sun, even on cloudy days. With one fully-operational solar energy project already installed at the firehouse, First Selectwoman Lisa Pellegrini received news at the beginning of May that more funding was approved for two new solar projects.

The town received a total of $387,200 in grant funding to install solar energy systems at the Department of Public Works garage and Somers Elementary School.

“The firehouse was the first project and a very good undertaking,” Pellegrini said.

Explaining that grants are available for projects to harness solar and wind energy, Pellegrini said wind can often be controversial, as turbines are large and costly, and the output may not always meet expectations.

“With solar, the technology has evolved so even on cloudy days it’s still generating,” she said.

Pellegrini said the plans are in keeping with the town’s strategic goal of seeking alternative energy systems, and the DPW garage and elementary school offered the biggest savings. She added that applying for both projects at the same time was a bit ambitious, but the pursuit paid off. One grant is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the other through Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.

As with the firehouse project, DBS Energy will design and install the next two systems. Erik Bartone, president of DBS Energy, said the new projects will differ from the firehouse in that they are larger in scale. “The firehouse system was about 5 kilowatts,” Bartone said. “It’s more of a system that would go in a residential home.”

He said the firehouse was used as a demonstration so those interested in solar power would have somewhere to view the system components. “There’s really nothing in Connecticut where you can go to physically see these things,” Bartone said.

The DPW project will be around 60 kilowatts, to fulfill about 75 percent of the building’s electricity requirements, while the school will have a 175-kilowatt system of 2,500 panels. Bartone said it will provide enough energy to power 20 homes for an entire year.

Installation is slated to begin in June, with completion in October.


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