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Workers Assembling Solar/Electric Array

Published: December 4, 2017

Workers are expected by December 1 to assemble all the steel racking required to hold the town’s planned solar/electric array at the closed municipal landfill off Ethan Allen Road, according to the supervisor of the construction project.

Joe Marrone of Miller Brothers, an electrical construction firm, said November 28 that he expects workers to start connecting solar/electric panels to the racking on the week of December 4 and to have the solar installation done by Christmas.

Fred Hurley, town director of public works, said that the pouring of concrete at the site has not been delayed by weather conditions. Concrete is poured into large plastic tubs that serve as the foundation for the racking that holds the solar panels.

Because the closed landfill’s surface cannot be punctured, the concrete-laden tubs sit atop the landfill to provide stability for the solar/electric system, which will include 4,266 stationary solar panels when completed.

The solar/electric power system is scheduled to be connected to the electric grid in February, when the town will start selling its electricity to Eversource, the state’s largest electric utility company.

The long-closed municipal landfill will be the site of the town’s largest solar/electric array, in effect, an electric power plant that is expected to produce direct-current power that will be converted into alternating-current electricity and significantly reduce the town government’s electric bill. To make that power usable on the electric grid, it must be converted from direct current to alternating current.

The town already has solar/electric arrays at sites including the sewage treatment plant, Newtown Middle School, Reed Intermediate School, the animal control facility, and the parks maintenance garage. Installing a solar/electric array at Sandy Hook School is in the planning stages. Other sites planned for solar/electric arrays are the Dodgingtown Firehouse, for which the town covers the electricity costs, and eventually, the Batchelder property off Swamp Road, which is a former industrial site.

The town will not put up any money for the landfill solar/electric installation, as the equipment will be owned by Tesla, Inc, which manufactures the panels, according to Mr Hurley. The array at the landfill has a projected lifetime of 25 years, after which the town would have the option of buying the installation, he said.

The town will be using the “virtual net metering” system, which allows the solar array to function as an independently operated power plant.

Mr Hurley has said the presence of a “power plant” at the landfill will generate revenue and will make it simpler for the town to budget its spending on electricity. The town government uses about 12 megawatts of power annually, according to Mr Hurley.

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