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From the First Selectman’s Office – 4/8/16

Although spirited disagreement is a constant in our small community, one of the areas where we enjoy broad consensus is our respect for the environment. Since I became First Selectman, Woodbridge has enhanced its role as a leader on clean energy initiatives and environmental stewardship.

Today I am extremely pleased to update you on our microgrid project: groundbreaking will take place this spring! Thanks to the foresight of former First Selectman Ed Sheehy, we were one of the first Towns to receive a State grant to establish a microgrid that will provide locally generated electricity during prolonged power outages. Woodbridge’s $3 million grant will pay for an underground transmission system that will connect key Town buildings, as well as Amity Regional High School.

United Illuminating will provide power generation through a fuel cell as part of its mandate to own and operate green power. The fuel cell will be located at the high school and will pump clean energy into the grid during normal operations. In the event of a power outage, the microgrid will go into “island mode” to assure electricity at the Town Hall, Library, Fire House, Police Station, Public Works Facility, Senior Center and Amity High School.

Preliminary work at the high school will start in April. United Illuminating and the school are working closely together to ensure that work does not disrupt the school day.

In May we expect work to begin to lay the transmission lines that will connect the municipal buildings to the microgrid and you may see some construction around the Town Campus. Work is expected to be finalized in December.

Of course, this is not our only recent green and clean project. Knowing the interest of Woodbridge residents in solar and clean energy, I created the Ad Hoc Energy Advisory Task Force to identify one-stop shopping for “green” opportunities. This has resulted in:

  • 124 families receiving home energy audits; and
  • 58 residents adding solar to their homes, resulting in a total of 83 solar homes in Woodbridge.

Also on the solar front, the Beecher Road School renovation project includes nearly 1,000 solar panels that, when installed, are expected to generate about 240 kilowatts of energy. As a result of our “green activity,” the Town has been awarded a $10,000 grant to be used for energy saving projects. At the recommendation of the Energy Advisory Task Force, the Board of Selectmen approved the use of $2,500 to provide LED light bulbs at no cost to Town residents during the Senior Center Holiday Fair. The Task Force has recommended using the remaining funds to convert certain lighting to LEDs.

We have also taken advantage of the State program that provides electric car charging stations, installing one in the parking lot behind Town Hall. A second will be installed at the Library.

Carrying our “going green” theme to other areas, I worked with the Library to select “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” as the first book in our One Book One Town program last summer. The book and accompanying programs fit well with residents’ interest in sustainable agriculture and eating locally produced food.

Our commitment to best organic practices is evident in the Town’s support of Massaro Farm. Woodbridge residents make the entire 57 acre parcel available at no charge to Massaro. In addition, we help with summer camp staffing.

I recently appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on the Best Organic Outdoor Maintenance and Management Practices. They have already made recommendations concerning the Fitzgerald Property that will guide management of the property by our Parks Department.

The Town of Woodbridge is also now a signatory to the West River Watershed Compact, a multi-town effort that will help protect, preserve and beautify the West River.

And there is more to come! We are well on our way to establishing a solar array on the capped landfill that we anticipate would provide enough electricity to cover most of the Town’s needs.

As always, if you have questions or ideas, please let me know! I can be reached at escalettar@woodbridgect.org. To stay up to date on the Town’s green efforts and other news and events, sign up for the email newsletter at tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews.

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