Rochester School Committee talks solar energy and LED lights

Oct 3, 2019

ROCHESTER — Two light-related projects for Rochester Memorial School have hit a bit of a cloudy patch.

At an Oct. 3 meeting, Superintendent Doug White gave an update on proposed plans to install LED lighting at the elementary school and a solar array on the school’s roof.

Describing the LED lights, White said, “we thought we were going to be able to do it, but it would take the town backwards a little bit.”

The installtion might set the town back in apply for Green Community status from the state, which it is currently in the process of doing. The Green Communities program offers grant money and technical support for clean energy projects in schools and other municipal buildings.

According to White, the town has to have a “certain number of buildings that would benefit to get that grant.”

Installing LED lights at Rochester Memorial before the town attains that status may make it less likely that it might be designated as a green community.

The school had examined LED lights as an option for their energy-saving qualities, but as they are still in the preliminary stages of the research they do not have figures on how much the lights might save the school. 

White also gave an update on a solar array proposed for the elementary school roof by Hopkinton-based Solect Energy.

When initially presenting the project, a representative from the company said the array could meet 60% of the school’s electricity needs and avoid the emission of 5,300 tons of carbon dioxide over a 20 year contract period.

White said he talked with Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar and that the school and town were in the process of having the contract looked at. He said the two parties were “working on some of the wording, trying to reach an agreement. Until that happens, we are on hold.”

Selectmen are also discussing a contract with Solect for the Highway Department barn.