As part of its ongoing effort to lower its energy costs and "go green" by making all facilities energy efficient, the Town of Wilton might soon be installing new solar/photovoltaic systems on two or more of its municipal buildings through participation in the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities' Solar/PV Power Purchase Program.
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday authorized First Selectman Bill Brennan to sign an agreement allowing the town to participate in the program, which allows qualifying municipalities to receive long-term, fixed-price, green power with no upfront cost.
"We have an energy purchase program that seems attractive — it's an interesting program," Brennan said, adding that town counsel had reviewed the "no risk" agreement, which allows the town to "pull out at any time."
Under the program — a recent extension of CCM's Energy program — solar development companies design, finance, build, operate and maintain solar energy systems at municipal and school sites. In turn the development company sells the power generated by the solar facilities to the Town at a negotiated (i.e. low), fixed rate.
Developers finance the projects using revenue generated by the system as well as through the sale of Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credits (ZRECs), which provide between 66% and 75% of overall revenue for the project, according to CCM's website.
Numerous other Connecticut municipalities are already participating in CCM's Energy program.
In order to apply for the solar program the town had to identify sites (i.e. buildings) which have enough roof area to accommodate a 100 kilowatt installation.
Bruce Hampson, chairman of the Wilton Energy Commission, which reviewed the CCM Solar Power Purchase program in July, told the selectmen that the commission had identified two potential sites for installations: Comstock Community Center and the Field House at Wilton High School.
The Library, Hampson said, was considered as a site, but does not have enough space on its roof for a 100 kilowatt installation. "They will participate in another auction next year for a smaller kilowatt installation," he said.
The commission also looked at Middlebrook School, but its new roof has too much mechanical equipment in the way to accommodate an installation.
"So, if we're approved — and there are a lot of steps — we would have a minimum of 200 kilowatt installation," Hampson said.
Hampson explained that the cost associated with the installation would be absorbed by the developer.
"Bay State Consultants will be compensated for the work, along with CCM, by a single payment of .75 cents per watt of total installed capacity," Hampson said. "That fee will be capitalized and will be part of the financing arrangement that the vendor will absorb. The town will not be billed separately for that."
Brennan emphasized that the Town may opt not to participate if the numbers aren't compelling. He said after the Town submits its application to participate, competing developers will visit the sites and enter bids.
"There isn't any risk on this because we haven't decided yet whether to participate," Brennan said.
"We're doing this to save money," he added. "In the end it should reduce our costs — otherwise we wouldn't be participating. And if we can get lower energy costs by using solar — I think that's what we should be going for."
"We should continue to see what comes out of this — and what offers come in," he added. "A whole bunch of people are going to bid on this thing, let's see what we get…"
Using funding from a range of resources the Town last year installed a 20-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system above the science wing at Wilton High School. The solar PV system was installed by Alteris Renewables Inc.