Weston allocates first solar megawatt

The Weston Board of Education allocated the first of two megawatts of solar electricity from a remote solar farm in Windham.

The school board voted unanimously at a meeting on Monday, Feb. 26, to use the megawatt of electricity to power Weston High School and Weston Middle School. The town will start receiving the electricity by early spring.

Electricity from the second megawatt, which will be available in the spring, will likely power Weston’s town hall and library, while the remaining electricity generated will go to the schools.

Each megawatt has the opportunity to be attached to five distinct meters, meaning each megawatt can go toward powering five locations throughout town. WHS and WMS, two meters, will likely use enough electricity allocated to one megawatt.

In January, Weston signed a 20-year contract to bring solar energy to town from the solar farm in Windham. There is a potential five-year extension if the town decides it wants to continue with the contract.

The solar farm is owned by Allco Renewable Energy Limited, a New York-based solar energy firm.

The deal, signed on Friday, Jan. 26, will provide roughly 60% of the power used by the schools and town buildings.

The process, called virtual net metering (VNM), delivers production from the Allco-owned solar farm to Eversource Energy, Weston’s energy provider. Weston will pay Allco for the energy used and subsequently receive credits from Eversource on the town’s utility bill that will offset the payment and end up saving money from the current monthly electric bill.

According to First Selectman Chris Spaulding, the town could save up to $4.3 million over 25 years.

No actual solar panels will be placed in Weston. The town isn’t physically receiving solar energy, but rather putting its share of solar energy into the overarching Eversource grid.

The VNM deal has been in the works in Weston for years. Former First Selectman Gayle Weinstein signed a letter of intent with Allco Energy to secure two megawatts of Eversource’s VNM capacity.

Weston was then placed on a waiting list to receive VNM credits. In May 2016, Weston came off the waiting list but didn’t commit until earlier this year. The deadline to be locked in to the deal was Jan. 28, and the town just made the cut by signing the deal on Jan. 26.

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