Westport Celebrates Solar Array at Staples High School

A dedication ceremony was held today in Westport, Conn., to celebrate the 7-kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed on the roof of Staples High School. The solar PV system, which the Town earned through the Connecticut Clean Energy Communities Program of the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), was installed by Ross Solar Group.

Westport’s Green Task Force, co-chaired by Alan Abramson and David Mann, and the Green Club at Staples High School have been driving forces in boosting clean energy awareness and CTCleanEnergyOptionsSM signups, helping Westport earn the 7-kW solar array at the school. The Green Task Force, which advises the town on environmental policy and decisions that will help transform Westport into a sustainable green community, has promoted CTCleanEnergyOptions signups at a number of local events. The group also successfully persuaded the town Planning and Zoning Department to modify its building-height regulations so that roof-mounted solar installations would be excluded from building height measurements, thus making it easier for residents and businesses to install solar arrays. Additionally, students in the Green Club have been highly successful in securing CTCleanEnergyOptions signups through a range of activities including door-to-door canvassing and promotions at annual Eco Fest and Earth Day events.  

In addition to being a leader in the Connecticut Clean Energy Communities Program, Westport has been a leader in the adoption of solar PV technology. Town leaders have supported the installation of solar PV systems on two municipal buildings: Staples High School and the town firehouse. They are also evaluating a number of other town locations for on-site clean energy generation systems. In addition, Westport residents and businesses have installed a total of 29 on-site solar PV systems. 

At the dedication ceremony for the Staples High School solar array, remarks were made by representatives from the Town of Westport, the Green Task Force, Ross Solar Group and CCEF.

The event also featured an awards presentation. First Selectman Gordon Joseloff presented the 2010 WeGreen Westport Awards to: Nicole Brill and Ben Meyers, both seniors at Staples High School and co-presidents of the Green Club; Marty Yellin, a member of the Westport Conservation Commission, Westport Green Village Initiative board and Westport Wastewater Management Committee; Winnie Balboni, captain of a major beach cleanup effort in Westport; and Oscar’s, a deli restaurant that reduced its energy use significantly while participating in CL&P’s Plan-It-Wise pilot program and implemented long-term energy efficiency measures. The awards, coordinated by the Green Task Force, are presented annually to individuals, businesses and community organizations that demonstrate a commitment to protecting and improving the environment in a way that contributes to a long-term positive effect on the sustainability of Westport.

Gordon Joseloff, first selectman of Westport, said, “The installation of solar panels at Staples High School is yet another indication of the ‘greening’ of Westport. Two years ago at Staples, we planted an edible garden. Not far from here, the Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainability Center is in full swing promoting environmentally friendly farming. I congratulate all those involved in this latest effort to make Westport a sustainable green community.”

“The Green Task Force is delighted that we are able to officially dedicate the solar installation at Staples today,” said David Mann, task force co-chairman. “Our community’s high school is the perfect location for this symbol of our town’s sustainable future. And to be able to have Nicki and Ben receive their awards here today is fitting; these panels are in no small part the result of their hard work and the dedication of the young people of Westport to a clean energy future.”

As of December 31, 2010, Westport had earned a total of 566 clean energy points from CCEF. Westport earned one point for each of the 479 customers enrolled in the CTCleanEnergyOptions program and three points for each of the 29 clean energy installations in town. Westport also earned one bonus kilowatt under the Connecticut Clean Energy Communities program by surpassing 2.5 percent household participation in the CTCleanEnergyOptions program. The clean energy points and bonus award enabled the Town to earn 7 kW of solar PV from CCEF.

The Town can earn points toward additional clean energy system kilowatts by garnering more clean energy signups or having more local businesses and households install clean energy systems, such as solar PV, solar thermal or geothermal.

Looking to the future, Westport plans to strengthen its commitment to clean energy. In the next three years, Westport will seek to dramatically increase residential enrollments in the CTCleanEnergyOptions program through its participation in the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge (N2N), a 14-town community energy savings program led by CCEF that was launched in March. In addition to promoting CTCleanEnergyOptions signups and energy efficiency measures, Westport’s N2N team will encourage residents to consider installing on-site solar PV and solar thermal systems as an extra sustainability measure.

Westport became a Connecticut Clean Energy Community in 2007. It is one of 53 Connecticut Clean Energy Communities statewide that collectively have earned 303 kilowatts of solar PV systems from CCEF. For more information about these and other Connecticut communities, visit the Program Progress Reports page on CCEF’s Web site or the general Communities section,www.ctcleanenergy.com/communities.

“Westport deserves special praise for its leadership in the clean energy revolution,” said Bob Wall, director of energy market initiatives for CCEF. The town’s early support for municipal clean energy purchases and solar PV has helped create a vibrant green economy and a healthier environment in Connecticut.”  

CCEF, please visit www.ctcleanenergy.com.

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