Darien applying for state grant to install solar panels

The town is looking to go a little greener after the Board of Selectmen approved a transfer to help pay for solar panels on the roof of Town Hall.

Administrative Officer Karl Kilduff told the Board stimulus money is available from the state that could cover up to three quarters of the cost of the panels. The town would look at installing both the more common crystalline panels and another system for the flat section of the roof. Town Hall would be powered by the panels, except on days where the sunlight was not as strong in which case it would be sent onto the grid.

It is estimated that the solar panels could save about $730,000 over 20 years. The installation cost would be about $466,000 but the town would only need to pay about $80,000 out of its own funds because of the grant money and rebates from Connecticut Light & Power, Kilduff said.

The Board opted to vote on the transfer Tueday night because the money had to be set aside in order to make the town eligible for the grant, Kilduff said. The transfer was unanimously approved by board members, although Republican Selectman Jayme Stevenson expressed concern about whether the town would be able to bid out the project.

Kilduff said the town could open the project to a bid once the grant was acquired.

Republican Selectman Gerald Nielsen said he was only concerned about the maintenance for the panels and the roof.

Democratic Selectman Callie Sullivan said she was in favor of the project and the town would benefit from installing the panels.