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Lamont pushes CT schools to embrace solar power

Lamont talks to students from Tisko Elementary School, which recently turned its solar panels on.
Molly Ingram
Lamont talks to students from Tisko Elementary School, which recently turned its solar panels on.

A bill from Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont could sweeten the deal for schools looking to install solar panels.

Current state law caps the amount of solar panels installed on non-residential buildings each year. The law promotes a competitive solar market, but hurts consumers, according to the governor’s office.

Lamont’s proposal would change that.

The bill would align school construction funds with energy program initiatives so schools can use state funds for installation.

Lamont visited Tisko Elementary School in Branford on Monday — their panels were activated last fall. The panels are expected to save the school more than $200,000 over the next 20 years.

“That's more money to go into the classrooms, more money for your school,” Lamont told a group of about 70 fourth graders, educators and lawmakers. “That makes a big difference. And I got to say, going forward, our green strategy is, a kilowatt of power you don't need is a kilowatt of power that doesn't generate any emissions.”

Branford Schools Superintendent Christopher Tranberg supports the bill.

“As a beautiful shoreline town, there's a lot worth protecting here,” Tranberg said. “Any legislative efforts that remove barriers to align school building projects with existing energy program initiatives would greatly benefit the Branford community as well as schools across the state of Connecticut.”

The Energy and Technology Committee has advanced the bill, and it's now waiting for a vote from the legislature.

An estimated 300 schools across the state have already gone solar.

“I think we ought to have each and every one of our schools with more solar power. That's about 1400 schools spread across the state,” Lamont said.

Lamont also took questions from some students, including, “How much do you save on just one solar panel?”

“Enough to make it worth it,” Lamont told the fourth grader.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.

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