Pair present ideas on possible solar arrays

WILTON – Should the town invest in solar arrays for the school and town buildings? The Energy Committee thinks so. Their suggested sites are the Quinn Brothers gravel operation on Route 31 south, the new fire station and the middle/high school.

On Monday, Nov. 20, Committee Member John Zavgren and Dan Weeks of ReVision Energy of Nashua, presented their ideas for the select board.

The gravel pit is being reclaimed, Zavgren said and will be town owned. Since that area is over the town’s main aquifer, “if needs to be protected from development.”

The Quinn’s lease isn’t up until 2019, Chairman Bill Condra said, adding that he would be opposed to using the land without a lot of further study.

The fire station, however, is an ideal location, both Zavgren and Weeks said.

Since visibility is a consideration, it would not be visible from the street. Payback on the installation would be about five years.

Weeks said ReVision Energy is a clean energy concern that deals mainly with municipalities and nonprofit organizations, “to accelerate clean energy transition.” He has worked with the Energy Committee over the past several months.

They also discussed street lighting and change to LED equipment, Weeks said, but that was not further discussed at this time.

Public buildings looked at included the town hall, police station, and both schools. Use of the schools would be up to the school board so they were not discussed further. However, the roof of the high school is in the process of being replaced over the next couple of years and adding a solar array at the same time would make sense.

A solar array could eventually meet all of the town’s needs, Weeks said.

An array on the fire station would be “straightforward,” he said. The station uses 10 percent of the town’s electrical use.

Condra said anything to do with the station “is up to the fire department. This is their building and their use comes first.”

To use the gravel pit, Weeks said, would require a permitting process and an environmental review. “There are potential concerns around the installation process” affecting the aquifer. “We don’t treat the ground and the panels don’t leak, they’re metal and glass.”

The committee should narrow the potential sites and develop a proposal, Condra said. “I would support many parts of this but there needs to be more study of the aquifer. I do support solar energy.”

Selectman Kermit Williams agreed but noted nothing can be done at the gravel site before 2019.

Selectman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said she was all for solar panels at the fire station but wondered about the original plan to add a second floor.

Condra said that was an earlier plan and did not see any need for the expansion in the near future.

Weeks said moving the panels up a level “was not a concern.”

The Energy Committee will submit a warrant article for town meeting to allow the town to move forward with the idea.