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Solar Panel Project Is Near Completion At Two Berkeley Heights Schools

Next phase of project is the installation of instructional kiosks at GLHS and Woodruff School, which should be achieved within the next two weeks.

Solar panels at two Berkeley Heights schools have been installed and are expected to be turned on in the next couple weeks, providing 60 to 70 percent of energy for each building.

The panels, which were installed over the last few months, were wired to the electrical systems at Governor Livingston High School and William Woodruff Elementary School on Wednesday, Sept. 26, said Board of Education Secretary Donna A. Felezzola.

“We’re really making progress with this project. We do anticipate about another two or three weeks,” Felezzola said at the Berkeley Heights Board of Education meeting last Thursday. “It’s a little harder for them to work when the students are in the schools.”

The next part of the project is putting the instructional kiosks in the schools and the location for each is being decided now.

“[Each kiosk] should be in a fairly public place so people can see what is being saved by the solar panels,” Felezzola explained. “That’s how the kiosks work – they actually show the power being generated and what’s being saved in the schools.”

Felezzola originally brought this project to the board’s attention at the April 26 meeting. Board members voted in favor of making a commitment of intent with Union County Improvement Authority, which is fully funding the project, at that meeting.

While Board President John Sincalgia raised his concerns in April regarding the old, leaky roof at Woodruff School, Felezzola assured the Board that the Improvement Authority would make any necessary repairs to the roof for the project.

The panels will cover 60 to 70 percent of the energy in each school, Felezzola said.

The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) price offered by the Authority is 7.95 cents per kilowatt hour.

In late September, Union County Improvement Authority Director Charlotte DeFilippo announced that the Union County Renewable Energy Program, which includes the solar panel project in Berkeley Heights, is 90 percent complete, with 28 of 31 facilities already installed and generating renewable energy savings for 15 governmental agencies.

The final installed systems size will total 3.37 megawatts (MW), DeFilippo said.

She said the last 3 facilities, which are located in Berkeley Heights and Roselle, will be operational by mid-October.

“Our local governments and public entities who are participating are at the vanguard of the green energy revolution,” DeFilippo said. “This is a generational accomplishment for Union County.”

Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella agreed.

“Our solar installations are saving taxpayer money on energy costs, creating a renewable energy source, and reducing pollution,” said Mirabella. “These are accomplishments all Union County residents can take pride in.”

The Renewable Energy Program was started in 2011 by the Union County Improvement Authority through PPA’s, which are common throughout the solar industry, according to a press release from Union County. In power purchase agreements, the property owners do not own the solar equipment. They simply pay for the electricity generated by the photovoltaic panels, at a rate lower than the price of conventional electricity.   

The participating governments and public entities are Morris-Union Jointure (Berkeley Heights), Berkeley Heights Board of Education (2 pending), Cranford, Garwood Board of Education, Hillside Board of Education, Linden, New Providence Board of Education, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle (1 pending), Roselle Board of Education, Roselle Park Board of Education, Union County Vocational Technical Schools (Scotch Plains), Union County College (Cranford), and Winfield Board of Education.

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