Outdoor school lighting proposal would pay for itself, officials say

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Fri., Sep. 9, 2011
Solar panels have been installed at North Street School and should be operational in October. Photo by Gregory A. Scibelli.
Solar panels have been installed at North Street School and should be operational in October. Photo by Gregory A. Scibelli.

The Windsor Locks Board of Education was expected to approve funding at its Sept. 8 meeting to replace exterior lighting at North Street School, as a part of a continuing effort to improve energy efficiency at the school.

North Street School will soon have many solar panels installed on the roof at the rear of the school. The project has been funded through grants from Connecticut Clean Energy, and the panels will produce approximately 105 watts of power. Power generated will be used for the school, and surplus can be returned to the power grid, said Superintendent Wayne Sweeney.

The panels were installed during a roof replacement at North Street School that was performed in the summer. In addition to the panels, Sweeney said the district worked with the contractor, DBS Energy, to come up with a plan to replace the outdoor lighting. The energy savings by replacing current lights with energy-efficient LED lighting will help the project pay for itself within nine years, Sweeney said.

“It’s really one of those no-brainer decisions,” said Sweeney. “It’s a great way to save the school money and save energy.”

The exterior lighting will cost approximately $205,000, with rebates totaling about $43,000. The remaining balance of $162,000 would be financed through a zero-percent interest loan, Sweeney said.

The installation process for the exterior lights takes about six to eight weeks, and the contractor plans to work during weekends and evening hours so they will not disrupt classes. The lights will feature timers for further energy efficiency and they will be shut off during late evening/overnight hours. Other lights at district buildings run on similar timers, which have saved energy in those locations.

If the BOE approves the temporary loan, DBS Energy estimates more than $400,000 will be realized in energy savings during the estimated 20-year lifespan of the lights.

Sweeney said work is nearly complete on the solar panels, and they will be operational some time in October. “It’s a very positive thing for the district to realize some energy savings with the amount of power that will be generated by these panels,” said Sweeney.
The panels are expected to save $12,000 to $14,000 per year in energy costs, said Facilities Manager Steve Mills.

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