The Clean Water Blog

Woodstock CT solar installation. Courtesy of BeFree Solar

Building Clean Energy in the Nutmeg State

Clean Water is determined to hold onto clean energy progress in the Connecticut, and to begin a strange new political era with vision and mojo.  We are gearing up by visiting and celebrating some of the state’s most exciting clean energy installations - and making a party of it.

Last weekend, two dozen members and supporters visited two solar installations of over a megawatt each, in two very different communities: in rural Woodstock, where the 1.1 mW array is enough for all local government power needs, and urban Fairfield, where the 1.7 mW system is one of 24 projects including solar carports at the Metro North station.  

Both arrays are new this year.  Each one is a primary source of power for local government operations.  They are both on ideal sites – closed landfills that don’t have obvious productive uses.  They are both testaments to the ingenuity of local advocates and developers – especially since neither community spent a dime to achieve these solar breakthroughs.

We were reminded that growing clean energy is not just about vision and politics, but financial acumen and local education.  Green teams – a unique feature in Connecticut – worked with town staffs in each forward thinking town to find good providers of “power purchase agreements” to install and operate the systems and sell power to the community.

In between those visits, we met an inspiring entrepreneur who has invested in large solar arrays  for several of his facilities – Kel Tyler, a partner in the Ring’s End Lumber chain in southern Connecticut. As an entrepreneur focused on a high-end, creative market, Tyler was comfortable investing in solar panels first for his highly visible Branford showroom because “people get off the highway a couple times a week to ask about the panels, and I know that once they’re in the building they are very likely to become a customer.”  In that same spirit, Ring’s End has a rich program of education for contractors in the latest building techniques – green wherever opportunities appear.

As we prepare for an intense 2017, there is no better reminder of what people power can accomplish than these local innovators.