Sutton going solar
Stimulus money helps project
By Donna Boynton TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
SUTTON — The town has received $150,000 in federal stimulus money to install solar panels at the Simonian Early Learning Center, and the green energy improvement is estimated to save the town more than $2 million over the life of the technology.
The town will apply the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant toward the installation of a 225,000-kilowatt-hour solar array on the new flat roof at the early learning center section of the Boston Road school campus.
“The town of Sutton has positioned itself extremely well for this funding by committing significant capital resources to upgrade the building roofing, which will house the solar array, and making a sincere commitment to increasing energy efficiency,” said state Rep. Jennifer M. Callahan, D-Sutton.
The school solar project began with the need for a new roof at the Simonian Early Learning Center two years ago. While designing the roof, the town asked Russo Barr Associates to do a solar panel feasibility study.
Borrego Solar Systems of Lowell did the study, which found that a 200,000-kilowatt system on 26,000 square feet of roof could save the town about $2.2 million in overall utility costs over 30 years. The cost of the solar panel project would be $1.2 million, but would be a minimal cost to the town with incentives and rebates.
The town borrowed $869,000 for the new roof project. The new roof cost $735,000 and, in authorizing the borrowing of that money, town meeting voters also authorized the remainder — $134,000 — to be applied to the solar panel project, said Town Administrator James Smith.
Incentives and rebates totaling $922,350 can be applied to the project. Combined with the $150,000 grant and the borrowed money, the remaining cost to the town could be minimal, said Ms. Callahan.
To date, the town has received eight responses to requests for proposals, with four of those bids below $1 million, the town administrator said.
“This is a goal we have been working on for the past two and a half years,” Mr. Smith said. “The Board of Selectmen have established energy savings and energy efficiency as a goal. We have formed an energy committee and have been working aggressively on this. Luck favors the prepared.”