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Selectmen Advocate Solar for Three Municipal Buildings

The Board of Selectmen is advocating that the roofs on three municipal buildings – Milford High School, the Highway Department garage, and the Sewer Department's wastewater treatment plant – be looked at as possible sites to install solar panels to save the own money, but noted that none of the three buildings falls under the board's jurisdiction.

David Consigli, chairman of the Geriatric Authority of Milford, met with selectmen last month to discuss how the Geriatric Authority negotiated a contract to install solar panels at its Countryside Health Care facility. Countryside Health Care is projected to save $490,000 over a 20-year program through its solar installation, he said.

Consigli advised selectmen that the state's Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) incentive program ended in December, but may be extended to include solar projects that have applied for SRECS and currently are underway. That means the town needs to get started as soon as possible, he commented.

According to estimates prepared by Solect Energy of Hopkinton for Town Administrator Richard Villani – and based on current electric bills – the high school could save about $930,000 on electricity costs, the Highway Department about $380,000, and the Sewer Department could save about $350,000 over the next 20 years.

Highway Surveyor Scott Crisafulli said his facility has a 31 year-old metal roof that leaks where it is riveted, and added he did not want to risk damaging it by erecting solar panels. He questioned whether installing a solar energy field on town-owned land to power all town-owned buildings might not be a better way to proceed.

If the roofs are available and the town can save money, then all boards should be looking at installing solar panels, Selectman William Kingkade said. "I think it makes a lot of sense if it's physically possible," he said. "I think the solar is a great idea," Selectman Brian Murray added, saying he liked Crisafulli's idea of a field of solar panels.

Murray recommended sending a letter to the School Department and School Committee to ask them about using the high school roof and to the sewer commissioners and Sewer Department about using the wastewater treatment plant roof.

Chairman William Buckley said he wanted to leverage the work at Countryside by having all departments install solar panels where it is feasible. If not, those departments should explain to taxpayers how they could have saved money but chose not to, the chairman added.

Buckley brought the issue up again at his board's February 6 meeting, asking Villani for a progress report. Villani said letters had gone out to the three departments and they were beginning to look at the idea.

The Finance Committee also supports the idea, with Chairman Christopher Morin telling committee members on February 8 that he expects them to question each town department head about their intentions regarding using solar energy. "They need to have a good look at it," Morin said. "This is big money," he continued. "I have a hard time leaving money [saved by using solar energy] on the table."


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