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Solar Power Program In Avon Advances

The Hartford Courant

AVON — Solar power panels are set to go on the roofs of two schools and a town building after the plans cleared an important hurdle in July.

Those panels are expected to go on the roofs of Avon High School, Avon Middle School and the town's pubolic works building next spring, said Town Manager Brandon Robertson. The energy from those panels is about 10 percent of the town's energy use annually and could save the town more than $20,000 per year in utility costs.

The town recently committed to getting more of the energy it uses from renewable sources and officials are looking to the solar panels to help achieve that goal. Robertson said the plan now has to go to the planning and zoning commission for approval and a structural engineer must also certify that the three roofs can support the panels.

"Assuming everything goes as anticipated we should have the panels up by the spring of 2015," Robertson said.

A private company, Solar City, will install and operate the panels. A key component of the plan is the credits for zero- or low-emission renewable energy that Solar City receives from the state for the electricity the panels generate. Solar City had to sell those credits to Connecticut Light & Power or United Illuminating in an auction that was held in July and Robertson said it was successful. That cleared the way for the plan to move forward in Avon.

The town will buy electricty that the panels generate from Solar City and that is expected to be less expensive than purchasing it from a utility company. Robertson said the town has a 15-year contract with Solar City and the town could save as much as $353,000 in utility costs during that time.

The two schools and the public works facility were chosen because it should be at least 15 years before their roofs need to be replaced. But Robertson said depending on how things go the solar power initiative may be expanded.

"We want to see how this goes first," Robertson said. "We're assuming this will go smoothly and if that's the case I think there would be interest in expanding it."

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