Higher-Efficiency Solar Panels Top Chester Elementary

Karena Garrity | Zip06

Continuing onward with the town’s quest to stay environmentally kind and energy efficient, Chester Elementary School’s roof is in the process of getting a make-over. In late August, the 42, town-owned solar panels that adorned the school’s roof were removed, making way for more energy efficient photovoltaic panels by Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC in Middletown.

The panels that were removed are currently being housed in the town garage and the town is in the process of exploring the options for use of these panels.

Meanwhile, the school is being outfitted with the new, more efficient panels during non-school hours.

“We didn’t want this project to interfere or distract from the students’ school day,” explained First Selectman Lauren Gister.

Originally, Greenskies was going to integrate new panels with the older ones, however, after fully investigating the project, the most efficient way to complete the project was found to be removing the old panels and replacing them with an entirely new system, which will be more cost-effective for the town.

“Although this solar system will not cover 100 percent of the energy needs of the school, it will save the town a substantial amount of money,” said Gister, who praised the hard work of the Chester Energy Team for its diligence and perseverance on this project. “This has taken over a year and a half to put together and the Energy Team has done a fantastic job.”

The older panels are owned outright by the town. Currently Chester is exploring options as to what to do with them next; one option is installing them on the firehouse, another is adding them to the solar panels currently on the roof of the Town Hall, and another possibility is selling the panels for a profit.

“These panels are a valuable asset to Chester and we want to ensure that we utilize them the best possible way,” said Gister.

“This project is the culmination of a long process,” said Gister. “Chester’s natural resources are extremely important to our residents and we are all interested in preserving our environment. In keeping with that goal, we have a holistic view of how to improve our ability to serve our taxpayers and we are continually looking into ways to be more environmental conscious and cost efficient.”