Less waste, more cash: town will use cogeneration to cut energy bills for Mansfield Community Center[SinglePic not found]
The town also is buying power from a wind-energy developer, Community Energy, Inc.
In the coming weeks, the town will be installing a system at the Mansfield Community Center that will put otherwise wasted heat to good use.
Known as cogeneration, the system pulls heat produced by a gas-powered engine that is generating energy and uses that heat to warm a building.
This is similar to the heating system in our cars; heat produced by the engine driving us down the road is pulled into the interior of the car, keeping us warm.
The benefit of cogeneration is that by “recycling” what would otherwise be wasted, the effect is to get more mileage out of every dollar spent on electricity.
Combined with the energy already being produced by the solar panels installed on the Community Center’s roof, the impact is substantial, said Mansfield’s head of Facilities Management William Hammon.
“We already have solar panels on the Center’s roof that are generating electricity. With cogeneration and solar power, our electric bill will be nothing,” he said.
10 cents vs. 17 cents a kWh adds up
A grant from Connecticut Clean Energy is supporting the cogeneration project.
The solar panels were installed at no cost to the town by Sun Edison, which will also maintain them.
In return, the town has agreed to buy energy from them – and at a lower price than what it is paying CL&P. The town is paying Sun Edison 10 cents a kilowatt-hour (kWh) versus the 17 cents a kWh that the town negotiated with CL&P.
To provide an idea of the savings, Hammon noted, “a typical house uses 500 to 600 kWh a month, so this would probably save $200 to $300 a month.”
“This town is very committed to being ‘green,’ and there’s nothing better, when it comes to solar panels, since this is a renewable resource,” Hammon said. “It helps the environment and saves money.”
Solar panels cannot be installed on just any building. The town was able to use solar panels at the Community Center, Hammon said, because the roof is in good condition and it faces south.
The longterm goal is to install solar panels on all the schools, but the roofs of those buildings are currently in need of repair. “If the roofs were covered with solar panels now, we would have to remove them in a couple of years when we replace the roofs,” Hammon said.
He added that solar panels can’t be used on the Mansfield Library building because the roof is too small and not facing in the right direction.
Wind, water and methane
Another town initiative was the formation of a Clean Energy Team in 2005, after the Town Council unanimously passed a resolution committing to the SmartPower “20 Percent by 2010″ campaign.
“We’ve committed to getting 20 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2010,” Hammon explained. “This means wind, water or even something like methane gas from dumps.”
The Clean Energy Team is charged with promoting the use of renewable energy, and this includes getting information out to the community.
“We’re trying to get townspeople on board. That’s how the town got solar panels on E.O. Smith High School. Every time you sign up 100 people for the Clean Energy Options Program, you get a solar panel,” Hammon said.
As of 2007, more than 230 Mansfield households were offsetting their electrical use by purchasing power generated by wind, small hydropower stations and landfill gas. And because more than 2.5 percent of Mansfield’s electrical users signed up for the Clean Energy Option, the town received three 1-kilowatt photovoltaic panels, now installed on the high school’s roof.
Today, 320 households or 6.5 percent have signed up for the program.
Not driving 2,321,948 miles
In 2007, the town signed an agreement with Community Energy, Inc. – a wind-energy marketer and developer – to purchase clean, renewable energy that offsets 4 percent of municipal electrical use for each year between 2007 and 2010.
What this will translate into is 2,684,085 kWhs of renewable electricity… with a comparable environmental benefit of planting 182,057 trees, or not driving 2,321,948 miles.
For more information about how to sign up for Clean Energy Options, go to:
To learn more about Mansfield’s participation in Connecticut Clean Energy Communities, click on this link:
and select Mansfield from the drop-down menu. (Note: the page is slow to load.)
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