Darien celebrates new solar panels with ribbon cutting

Town leaders were at Town Hall Monday afternoon in Darien for a ribbon cutting of three new solar panel systems installed in town. — Sandra Diamond Fox photo

Darien just got three times greener with the recent installation of three more solar panel systems on town building rooftops.

More than a dozen town officials and residents celebrated this news Monday afternoon, April 22, with a ribbon cutting at Town Hall.

The new solar panels were installed on Town Hall, the Department of Public Works garage, and the police station.

From left, Craig Flaherty, Jayme Stevenson, and Carolyn Bayne are on the solar panels that were installed at Town Hall. — Ed Gentile photo

Work will soon begin to install them on the rooftops at Tokeneke School, Holmes School, and the Board of Education Administration Building.

There are currently systems at the Darien High School gym and Ox Ridge School.

“This upgrades our total count of rooftop systems in Darien to eight, increasing our supply of Class 1 renewable energy to about 500 kilowatts,” said Craig Flaherty, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Sustainability.

At the celebration were members of the Board of Selectmen and the Darien Advisory Committee on Sustainability, and other town officials and representatives from Encon and the Connecticut Green Bank.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, who was one of the ribbon cutters, said Darien is “a leader in terms of environmental sustainability, and it’s all through the hard work of our DPW department and the fabulous people that volunteer their time on the sustainability committee.”

The panels are expected to be turned on any day.

The systems were designed and constructed by Encon; they were financed by, and are owned by, the Connecticut Green Bank.

Bert Hunter, the bank’s chief investment officer, said he “cannot think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than through the commissioning of these three systems. Not only will they save Darien practically a half million dollars over the next 20 years, but they will avoid burning a lot of fossil fuels.”

“Every little bit that we save is less that our taxpayers have to pay in taxes to sustain all of our town facilities,” Stevenson said. “We’re very mindful of that and we’ll continue as projects come available for us to jump on board and continue to make good strides for the town of Darien and our taxpayers.”

Hunter added that Green Bank works with communities throughout the state, and has helped 40 cities and towns go solar and also be more energy efficient.

Darien is also a new member of Sustainable CT, which is a voluntary certification program “where member towns come together and help each other through a menu of options in energy efficiency,” Stevenson said.

She added that the town is “very proud of the advances” that it has made so far.

“I think we’re a role model for small and large towns alike, and I very much appreciate that you’re all here to help us kick off this fantastic project,” Stevenson said.

sfox@darientimes.com