Lights Out For Solar Array Proposal

City Council nixes plan to establish solar panels on five New London properties

Citing a short window of opportunity to acquire information among other concerns, the City Council voted 2-5 against entering into a contract to establish five solar panel arrays around New London.

The proposal called for the city to have Mayor Daryl Finizio contract with authorizing the establishment of the arrays on city properties as well as a 20-year agreement to purchase electricity from the company at a premium rate. The agreement would be contingent on approvals from the law and finance directors as well as administrative authorizations and approvals, including a change of use permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The company would be responsible for the construction and maintenance of the solar panels. Finance Director Jeff Smith estimated that the project would save the city between $750,000 and $2.2 million over the course of the contract.

The arrays would have established in the parking lots of the , , , , and . These panels would be elevated to allow vehicles to park underneath them. The proposal would also have established solar panels on the roofs of the school buildings.

The council tabled the idea from last week due to concerns that information on the rates Sun Edison would charge were not made public, as the company planned to bid for a Low and Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Credit Program run by Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminated Company. The Finance Committee met in executive session prior to Tuesday’s meeting to discuss this information.

Two residents spoke about the issue during the public comment section. Tom Quintin, of Save Ocean Beach Park, said the organization had not been consulted in the matter. He said neighbors would likely be upset with the proposal and that the panels in the parking lot could easily be vandalized. He suggested that rooftop panels on the GAM or buildings would be preferable.

Steve Alligood, a Waterford resident in the area of Ocean Beach Park, said he was not against solar power but thought the councilors were being asked to make a hasty decision.

“My only thoughts are slow down, look this over, and make a careful decision, because 20 years is a long time,” said

Councilors said they were interested in the idea of using solar power to save on electricity costs, but concerned with the proposal as offered. Council President Michael Passero said he felt there needed to be more information available on the potential visual impact as well as the reactions from property owners near the proposed sites. However, he said he felt there would be adequate time to address these concerns before the arrays would be established.

“I think there’s a lot of other hoops that have to be jumped through,” he said.

Councilor Adam Sprecace said he was concerned with the time schedule but would be open to reconsidering a solar proposal next year. Councilor John Maynard said he thought there would be benefits to the plan, but was opposed to some of the space being considered.

“The roof units I like,” said Maynard. “But with the parking lot units, I just can’t support it.”

President Pro Tempore Wade Hyslop along with Councilors Marie Friess-McSparran, Maynard, Anthony Nolan, and Sprecace opposed the plan. Passero and Councilor Donald Macrino were in favor.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caiti Griffin May 31, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Solar panels are a great way to invest in the energy needs of our city. I agree with Maynard that parking lot units are not ideal and that just about everyone can agree that rooftop units are the best way to go. I hope this issue is returned to the table and approved by all.
Thomas Cornick May 31, 2012 at 02:11 PM
A few acres of solar arrays on the neighborhood devastated by the eminent domain abuse of the NLDC would be nice and might not require a tax abatement like the row homes planned for some of the land.
Helen Sandalls May 31, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Thank you Patch for covering this really important public policy issue - you're our only source! Keep up the good work!
Daniella Ruiz June 01, 2012 at 09:01 AM
even as CL&P rates 'seem to fall', these solar arrays demand a premium rate?. in the area of high salt overspray/mist, possible hurricane force winds and spotty maintenance of existing roofs and structures, it is wise to delay this for further review. would the city assume full responsibility of the weather worn units after the 20 year span or is there some 'exit plan' to remove them if they cannot return the revenue/savings in the future? use of the vast unused open space at the 'Ft Trouble'/public works area does seem an adequate option. it would be interesting to know if other large commercial/university/hospital grounds were also presented with similar 'bargains' as this claims.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something