Lamont promotes bill to help schools make the switch to solar – FOX61 Hartford

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The governor wants state lawmakers to pass a new bill that would incentivize solar projects for school districts.

BRANFORD, Conn. — A renewed push to “go solar” in schools this legislative session is being led, in part, by Gov. Ned Lamont.

Monday morning, Lamont visited Mary R. Tisko Elementary School in Branford to showcase a district that has already made the switch to solar. The panels at Mary R. Tisko were activated in the fall, along with more solar panels at Mary T. Murphy Elementary School.

“Efficiency and green power and solar, it’s really a good deal. It’s a good deal for the taxpayers, it’s a good deal for your school, it’s a good deal for the state,” Lamont said.

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Lamont and other state officials visited the school to promote a new bill he hopes lawmakers will push through this legislative session. According to state leaders behind the initiative, House Bill 5052 is meant to make it simpler for more schools to make the switch to solar.

“I think we ought to have each and every one of our schools with more solar power. That’s about 1,400 schools spread across the state,” Lamont said.

Advocates for the changes said the current law creates disincentives for districts to go green.

“One of the first things this bill does is it removes an unintended barrier to solar development at schools,” said Katie Dykes, Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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That barrier, Dykes said, comes in the form of reimbursement for construction projects related to solar energy. The proposal would help solve those issues and dedicate funding for solar in schools, starting off with 25 megawatts.

“That’s roughly, you know, maybe 50 to 100 schools per year,” Dykes said.

Bob Babcock, a member of the town’s Clean Energy Committee, said it is something that he feels has worked for Branford so far. 

“The Branford schools consume about 60% of the energy in Branford, so what can we do to change, to help that cause,” Babcock said.

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Babcock said the solar panels on the two schools in the district are projected to save them $200,000 over 20 years. Additionally, he said having them at schools sets an example for the students.

“And we get them used to the fact that these programs are good and worthwhile and educate them on the level of solar systems where they go to school,” Babcock said.

Fourth graders at the school lined up during the announcement with questions for the governor.

“I think it’s just kind of cool to see what nature can do,” said Victoria Ellis, a fourth grader at Mary R. Tisko Elementary School.

“Yeah, and I think it’s better if we’re getting energy from sunlight instead of other stuff,” said Ruth Brown, a fourth grader at Mary R. Tisko Elementary School.

If the bill is passed, the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority or, PURA, would oversee the program. It would come up with all the rules and guidelines and figure out how to distribute the funding. 

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on FacebookX and Instagram.

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