Karena Garrity | Zip06
On the second to last day of the 2018-’19 school year, students at Chester Elementary School celebrated a very important event: the ribbon cutting for the more than 300 Greenskies Renewable energy solar panels that were installed on the building’s roof this school year.
The panels, which convert sunshine into energy, now supply the school with 40 percent of the energy it uses, saving money as well as natural resources.
Chester Elementary School Principal Tyson Stoddard, First Selectman Lauren Gister, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Levy, Greenskies Vice President of Business Development Meagan Occhiogrosso, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33) and members of the Chester’s Town Energy Team—Chairman Pat Woomer, Ed Meehan, Sandy Prisloe, and Peter Harding—were all in attendance at the ceremony to congratulate the students and the school on culmination of the two year project which included the installation of the panels on the school’s roof at no cost to the town.
Chester has entered a power purchase agreement with Greenskies for the next 20 years and the panels have saved the town $16,000 in energy costs this year alone.
“This project is near and dear to my heart since I lived in Chester when I was younger,” said Occhiogrosso. “I am so grateful to the Chester Energy Team for helping to get this project to the finish line. It is a great success.”
“This is helping the school and the town create green energy while at the same time working to save the planet,” said Stoddard. “In addition, it’s a great way to bring hands on learning to the school, enrich learning, and embed it into with our science and math programs.”
“This was a key project for us,” said Woomer. “We are very proud of the positive impact this will have on the community and the fact that with this project, we are meeting our main of objectives, which are to save energy, save the planet and help produce green energy.”
Woomer encouraged the Chester Elementary School students to continue to have an impact on their own communities and to insist on the use of renewable energy.
“Be cognitive of what is going on in your own home and in your neighborhood, it’s your world,” said Woomer.
“This is all very exciting,” said First Selectman Lauren Gister. “Not only is this a great program, but I think it is important for the students to learn how to set and reach goals, and to be part of this kind of holistic, visual way of learning and making an impact on their school, their community, and the planet.”
Levy added, “This solar project provides an excellent example of collaboration between our schools and our community, modeling environmental awareness and demonstrating a concrete example of something we can all do to make the world a better place. Projects like this bring the community together in a very positive and proposal way.”
Gister praised the school as well as well as the Chester Energy Team for bringing the project together and getting it completed.
“Our Energy Team has some of the hardest-working volunteers on it in town. They always go above and beyond; they are self-generating and they do fabulous work for our town. We are all very lucky to have them,” said Gister.