UNION, NJ – Planning Board members heard from a representative from Pfister Energy with a review of conceptual plans for the carport photovoltaic canopies to be installed at Union High School and Hannah Caldwell Elementary School as part of a larger energy-efficiency plan for Union schools.
The courtesy review was held at the last Planning Board meeting, but the Board of Education project requires no formal approval from the township. Details of the project were provided for a generalized review and for the Planning Board’s comments and suggestions.
“The solar panels, along with other upgrades, will make the schools more energy efficient,” said Union Board of Education President Ronnie McDowell. “The best part to this project is that it will not cost the district any money. The energy savings will be used to pay for the project.” McDowell said the project is part of an Energy Savings Improvement Plan (ESIP), regulated and approved by the NJ Board of Public Utilities.
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At the meeting, Doug Bagwill with Pfister Energy said the canopies at the high school will include four 14-foot tall structures over the north parking lot. He said he expects construction to begin in late summer or early fall with plans for completion by the end of the calendar year. Bagwill added that volatility in the U.S. steel market may have an impact on the timeline.
Bagwill said there will be two canopies over the existing parking lot at Hannah Caldwell School and expects construction to be complete by the end of August.
“Even before the COVID pandemic, one of the objectives of the project was to improve indoor air quality and comfort,” said McDowell. “So when the pandemic hit last year we made sure that improvements to the HVAC systems were included in the project.” McDowell added that another goal of ESIP is to fund major capital improvements. “New roofs, boilers , and lighting are planned for the school the need those. Again, all this and more will be funded with the savings produced by each building being more energy efficient.”
A recommendation by the Planning Board for the school board to provide a comprehensive review of the staging, parking and sequencing of the project during the construction phase was provided.