Despite what’s happening in Washington D.C., in Woodbridge we continue our commitment to be good stewards of the environment and to combat climate change. This includes reducing our energy usage overall and increasing our reliance on clean energy.
Recently we celebrated the installation of a fuel cell at Amity Regional High School, the first step towards the creation of the Town’s microgrid. Our microgrid and others in Connecticut have been financed by the State’s first-in-the-nation Microgrid Pilot Program. This was in response to Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy when residents in some towns were out of power for weeks.
In Connecticut, we know that climate change is real and that we are vulnerable to extreme weather. The installation of the fuel cell is a tribute to the advancement of science that is helping us deal with the causes and effects of climate change.
The fuel cell feeds into the electric grid, providing clean power to everyone in United Illuminating territory. Amity High School will capture the fuel cell’s “waste heat,” thereby reducing the school’s carbon footprint and, of course, saving money on heat. Additionally, the fuel cell is a great learning tool for our students.
The next step in this project is the establishment of our microgrid which will connect our Town Center buildings to the fuel cell. In the event of a power outage, the system will go into “island mode” assuring uninterrupted power to our Town Hall, Library, Fire House, Police Station, Public Works Facility and Senior Center, which also serves as an emergency shelter. Amity High School, which is the regional center in the event of a public health emergency, will also be connected to the microgrid.
This is not the only energy project we’re working on. The Ad Hoc Energy Advisory Task Force helped residents save energy at their homes and go solar. The success of the program earned the Town a grant that will be used to convert the Library to LED lightbulbs, a conversion that is expected to save the Town $9,000 a year in electric bills. Additionally, the task force earned a free 5kW solar array that will be installed on the Library later this year, to further reduce the Library’s electric costs.
We continue to explore other ways to reduce our energy usage and increase our reliance on clean energy at all municipal buildings, particularly through a potential solar array at the capped landfill.
We’re helping others save energy and money, too. This spring the task force will invite local small businesses to a meeting where they can learn how to take advantage of a program, Small Business Energy Advantage, to help them save energy and money.
Larger businesses and multi-family property owners can take advantage of a different program that the Town has signed onto, Commercial & Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), which allows property owners to finance energy efficiency upgrades with little or no upfront costs and re-pay the loan over time through a voluntary assessment on their property tax bill.
If you haven’t already taken advantage of the residential Home Energy Solutions program, I encourage you to do so. For a $124 fee, you can have a home energy audit that will evaluate your home’s energy performance, seal leaks and drafts, install energy efficient lighting and low-flow showerheads and receive written recommendations on next steps to take, such as investing in new appliances or installing additional insulation. This program is subsidized by a fee on everyone’s utility bill.
You can learn more about how to make smart energy choices at your home or business by visiting www.energizect.com. The more energy we conserve and the less energy we use, the better it is for our environment and for our future.
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