Earth Day provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the successful installation of three out of an eventual six solar photovoltaic systems on town facility rooftops, with a celebratory ribbon cutting by First Selectman Jayme Stevenson on Monday, April 22,  at 1 p.m., in front of Darien Town Hall. Joining in the celebration will be members of the Board of Selectmen and the Darien Advisory Committee on Sustainability, other town officials and representatives from Encon and the Connecticut Green Bank.

The solar panel installations at the Police Station, the Department of Public Works Garage, and Town Hall will begin generating electricity any day now. Work is commencing on Board of Education managed buildings this month, eventually including rooftop systems at Tokeneke School, Holmes School, and the Board of Education Administration Building.

“Through the hard work of our Advisory Committee on Sustainability working in collaboration with Town and Board of Education staff, Darien has become a local government leader in sustainable practices,” said First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. “We are committed to limiting environmental impacts from town-owned facilities, to saving taxpayers money and to serving as a role model organization for others in our region and across the state.”

These six systems will increase the town’s Class 1 renewable energy generating capacity by 544 kilowatts, producing an estimated 609,933 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. According to an EPA calculator, this will offset the equivalent of 539 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is roughly equivalent to the emissions released by the consumption of 55,000 gallons of gasoline or a passenger car driving 1,200,000 miles.

The systems were designed and constructed by Encon; they were financed by, and are owned by, the Connecticut Green Bank. The town paid nothing to have the systems installed and has agreed to purchase power from the Connecticut Green Bank at a fixed and flat rate of $0.062 per kwh of electricity produced for the next twenty years. This is less than the rate that the town currently pays for its power, which varies and increases over time. As such, the power purchase agreement is estimated to save the town approximately $40,000 in its first twelve months of operation and approximately $1,300,000 over the life of the 20-year contract.

The new systems will bring the total number of solar PV system installations on town buildings to eight as there are systems on the rooftops at the Darien High School gym and Ox Ridge School which were installed about ten years ago and have the capacity to generate about 100 kilowatts of electricity.

Craig Flaherty, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Sustainability, said that he is thrilled that the projects are coming to fruition. “I am proud to have played a role in advocating for these projects, and I am grateful that we found immediate support for them from the First Selectman. It is critical that we take action to reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere if we are to avoid the worst of the predicted impacts of climate change and projects like these are a piece of the puzzle.”

Readers can view video of the systems acquired by drone flyover at the Darien Recycling Center page on Facebook here and on demand at Darien TV79.