Gov. Lamont pushes for more solar panels on schools

Around 300 schools in Connecticut have solar panels. Gov.Lamont wants to quadruple that number.

John Craven

Apr 15, 2024, 8:40 PM

Updated 32 days ago

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Gov. Ned Lamont took advantage of a sunny, nearly 80 degree day on Monday to push for more solar panels on schools.
The proposal could provide more money for school districts – partly coming from existing fees on your electric bill – but the Lamont administration insists the panels will pay for themselves.
“AN AWFUL LOT OF DIFFERENCE”
Lamont visited Tisko Elementary School in Branford, which recently installed dozens of solar panels on the roof.
“I haven’t seen them yet on the roof, but I have seen them on my neighbor’s house,” said fourth grader Ruth Brown.
Right now, around 300 schools in Connecticut have solar panels. Lamont wants to quadruple that number.
“Solar power makes an awful lot of difference. It’s a lot easier to do on schools and multifamily and commercial. A little tougher on the homes,” he said. “I look at the fourth graders here, and I want to make sure this is a planet and this is a state where you know you’re always a clean and healthy environment.”
NEW LEGISLATION, NEW MONEY
A new bill would cut red tape and create additional incentives for school districts to install solar panels. A new state fund would help pay for enough panels to produce up to 25 megawatts of electricity statewide, and school construction grants would send more dollars to projects with solar included.
Some of the money would come from existing fees on your electric bill, but the Lamont administration does not believe it will raise rates.
“The developers are competing to keep their costs down,” said Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner Katie Dykes. “And so, we’re getting lots of solar developed, but at the least cost to our electric ratepayers.”
The proposal also requires school districts to conduct a “solar feasibility assessment” on at least one campus, which non-partisan analysts estimate could cost each district more than $100,000.
“I think that, that’s money well spent because it ensures that the municipality is well informed about the savings that they can get,” Dykes said.
LONG-TERM SAVINGS
Branford schools leaders said that the up-front cost is high, but solar saves money over the long run.
“We’re projecting over the life of the panels a savings of $200,000 per campus,” said Dr. Christopher Tranberg, the Branford Public Schools superintendent.
Tranberg said the panels are projected to last 20 years, meaning each campus could save $10,000 per year in electric bills.


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