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Melrose plans to add new solar panels to middle school, high school

Posted by Jarret Bencks  March 15, 2013 01:09 PM

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Melrose's middle school and high school roofs will be almost completely covered with solar panels under a proposed plan described by city officials

The new panels would be owned by renewable energy company Ameresco, and the city would buy the electricity generated, Melrose energy coordinator Martha Grover said. But the city would receive the utility rebate for the panels, projected to save Melrose about $20,000 per year, she said.

Panels owned by the city installed in 2007 and 2011 already cover about half the roof of the middle school, totaling a 50 kilowatt system. The new project, a 301 kilowatt system, would cover virtually all shade-free areas of both roofs, Grover said.

"For a city like Melrose that has very limited open space, our rooftops are our only available locations for solar," Grover said. "We're starting with our largest roof base and hope to utilize other shade free roof space on other buildings in the future."

About 15 percent of the High School's annual energy usage will be powered by the panels, Grover said.

"The grant funding made it possible for us to install the first two phases, but otherwise, it's still pretty out of reach for a system this size," she said.

A request to approve a contract with Ameresco will be considered by the Melrose Board of Aldermen next week. If approved, the panels would be installed over the summer and in operation for the 2013-2014 school year, Grover said.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JarretBencks.

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