Needham Solar Challenge/Installation

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At last...

The High Rock solar panels are installed. We're working on a press release (January, 2010).

The long and winding road....

September 2, 2009 - The new High Rock School is open, but the solar panels have not yet been installed. We are promised that they will be in place before the planned dedication of High Rock on Sunday, October 25.

The contract for the installation has been awarded. The contractor has an installation plan and the products available. Once they have the go-ahead, installation should only take several days.

The last remaining hurdle is a "de minimis" change to the High Rock Site Plan. This change must be approved by the Planning Board before the Building Inspector will allow the installation to proceed. The Public Facilities Department has made a initial presentation to the Planning Board. They will make a final presentation, and expect to receive approval, at the October 6th meeting of the Planning Board.

The meeting will be held at the Selectmen's Office at Town Hall and interested parties are welcome to attend. Planning Board meetings typically begin at 7:30 and it is advisable to check the agenda for the time of a given item. Agendas are posted in advance of the meeting and are available here.

Once approval has been granted and recorded by the Planning Director, the Public Facilities Department will work with the schools to schedule the contractor for installation of the panels.

A data acquisition facility is part of the installation of the panels. Information about electricity generated by the panels is fed over the Internet to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The MTC makes this data available to the public and the school for instructional use through its web site.

The MTC also provides curriculum resources on its web site. These educational programs are being transitioned to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center under the provisions of the Green Jobs Act passed in 2008. As of September, 2009 there is as yet little useful information on the CEC site.

Another local solar site of interest is at Chapman, a Constuction and Design company on Winchester Street in Newton Highlands. Chapman did a full LEED renovation of their facility and installed a solar array that provides much of their power. You can see real time monitoring of the production from their array, which is located a mile from the border of Needham and 3.5 miles from the High Rock School.