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Greenwich High Flips Switch on Solar Panels

GREENWICH, Conn. – Up on the roof at Greenwich High School sits a 7.7-kilowatt solar panel system, positioned facing the southwest, to supply clean energy as well as learning opportunities for students on the benefits of alternative energy sources.

Siena Rumbough, president of the Greenwich High Environmental Action Club, gave a presentation a year ago on solar panels as well as other green technology. “Little did I know Headmaster Winters was on the same page,” she said. “I want Greenwich Public Schools to be the ones other schools strive to follow.”

The 7.7-kilowatt system was installed on the science building at Greenwich High School in November. “This feeds right into the school,” Frank Alfano, CEO of Mercury Solar Systems , said as he showed off the panels Tuesday morning at a dedication ceremony. Alfano is a Greenwich resident and has two children at Greenwich High. He said the amount of energy the panels produce – 8,800 kWh – is equivalent to recycling more than 150,000 cans and planting 500 trees.

The Board of Selectmen, at the request of the Conservation Commission, passed a resolution in March 2008 committing the town to clean energy.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for our young people to help ignite us to do further things. Oftentimes we need that energy, no pun intended, to galvanize us to go the next step,” said First Selectman Peter Tesei.

Greenwich became eligible for the free solar panel installation when it was designated a Clean Energy Community in January 2010. Mercury Solar Systems installed the panels, with funding provided through a grant by the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.

Denise Savageau said that when the town became a Clean Energy Community and learned it was eligible for free solar panels, the choice of Greenwich High School was a “no-brainer.”

“This morning I went up on the roof for my first time to take a look, and I have to say as impressive as our solar panels are, there’s a lot more flat space up there with plenty of southern exposure. And we would love to keep growing it,” said Greenwich High Headmaster Chris Winters. There are educational opportunities for students to use data fed from the solar panels to electrical panels in the science wing.

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