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Cheshire accepted in program to aid solar panel switch


CHESHIRE — Solar panels may soon appear on more homes and businesses in Cheshire.

The town has been accepted to a state grant program called the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority that will make it easier for residents and companies to transition to solar power, according to Tim White, lead volunteer for the Cheshire Solar Choice program.

In remarks before the Environment Commission Tuesday night, White said that the Energy Commission voted at its July 24 meeting to recommend to the Council that the town join the grant program.

White said the program was designed to promote the state’s goal of cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy.

White acknowledged that solar energy systems are expensive. But once the equipment is paid off, solar offers savings over the long term, he said.

Homeowners would typically pay about $20,000 to buy a solar system and the state would rebate $10,000, White said. They would also be eligible for a $3,000 federal tax credit.

Since previous solar grant programs did not have adequate oversight, the state is doing more to make sure the grant is not abused.

To that end, he said, a panel of three town officials will interview solar installers to assemble a list of installation companies. Program applicants will be free to choose their own installers.

White said Cheshire’s participation in CEFIA would have a long-range impact because the program provides the framework for a comprehensive, municipal energy strategy.

In other business:

- Suzanne Simone, an Environment Commission staff member, said that high school students who will participate in National Public Lands Day projects on Sept. 28 will work on the DeDominicis Property, one of the town’s open space areas. The focus of students’ labor will be clearing debris from the stream bank in the area and removing invasive species, she said. Commission member Matt Abdifar said he called the high school and recruited about 20 student from the Environment and Young Democrats clubs. He said he expected to attract more students once school begins.

- Chairman William Sherman said the Environment Commission will share a booth at the Sept. 7 Fall Festival with the Energy Commission. Simone said the commission had redesigned pamphlet maps of the Dedomenicis, Boulder Knoll, Dime Savings, Roaring Brook, Casertano, Mixville Hills, and Ten Mile Lowlands open space properties to distribute at the booth, along with tote bags donated by Whole Foods, commission logos, and window decals. They will also have new, oversize maps of all town open space territories to display, she said.



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