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Norwalk Task Force Works On Solar Panels, Other Eco-Friendly Projects

Solar panels for city buildings are part of the many projects under way for the Norwalk Mayor's Energy and Environment Task Force.
Solar panels for city buildings are part of the many projects under way for the Norwalk Mayor's Energy and Environment Task Force. Photo Credit: Lucas Braun via Creative Commons

NORWALK, Conn. – Solar panels, more efficient electrical systems and other cost-saving and environmentally friendly developments could be installed on Norwalk’s city properties in the near future.

In February, Mayor Harry Rilling put together the Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force, led by Common Council member John Kydes.

One set of projects the task force has planned would be to install solar-energy panels on city-owned buildings. Current projects such as the renovations at Naramake and Rowayton elementary schools and the proposed work on the City Hall roof are among the first targets, but the task force is looking into compiling a list of all buildings with the proper conditions to host roof panels.

The solar panels could be installed with no cost to the city, and could cut energy costs by 20 percent to 50 percent for the host building, Kydes said in an email.

“Savings amounts will vary, based on the amount of solar panels that can fit on the roof,” he added.

Building and Facilities manager Alan Lo, purchasing agent Gerald Foley and property manager Mike Sgobbo have also worked on a project to retrofit City Hall’s lighting system with a more energy-efficient model. If completed, the project would save more than 180,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and nearly $30,000 per year for the city.

“This will reduce City Hall’s energy lighting costs by half and it will take under four years of savings to pay back the city's investment,” Kydes said.

Along with municipal projects, the task force is also looking to develop similar projects in the private sector. The group is planning a series of workshops for residents and business owners on how they can do similar work in their homes and businesses. Kydes expects the first workshops to coincide with Earth Day in late April.

Norwalk has also signed on to the Clean Energy Communities program. Under the program Norwalk has pledged to cut its energy use in municipal buildings by 20 percent over the next five years, and to get 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2018.

In exchange, the Clean Energy Communities program Norwalk will be eligible for grants in the future as it meets is goals. As of the end of 2013, 77 other towns and cities in the state had signed up for the program, according to the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board.

“As we move into 2014, we will continue to introduce innovative programs and seek additional opportunities to maximize our energy savings so that Connecticut remains a national leader in energy efficiency,” Jamie Howland, chair of the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board, said in a press release.

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