Sunnyside Up And Running: Chenery Solar Panels Officially Turned On

Photo: Chenery Middle School Principal Karla Koza at the ribbon cutting for the solar array at the school

In the end of a week when the news about schools was dark, Chenery Middle School Principal Karla Koza said Friday, May 27, that she was happy to have some good vibes coming from her school.

“This is pretty cool being the first school to have this type of ribbon cutting,” said Koza as sixth grade students town and school officials and representatives of Belmont Light gathered in the school to cut the ribbon for the official start of the solar array located on the south facing side of the school.

While the solar panels – the first to be placed on a municipal building in Belmont – have been permitted and energized since January, the newly operational video information screen located near the school’s Main Office will show through charts and real-time data the amount of energy being produced by the panels. For sixth grade students now and in the future, monitoring the level of energy produced by the array will become a part of their science curriculum targeting the use of carbon-free sources to reduce the town’s fossil fuel usage to avoid the dangers of climate change.

The day’s event came about through the efforts of past and present students, residents and the town to place the solar panels at the Chenery. James Booth, a member of the town’s Energy Committee, said a $29,000 donation from the solar installer who worked with Belmont Goes Solar along with $15,000 from an anonymous donor and matching funds paid for the array set up. The installation required the collaborative effort of Belmont Light, town departments, the school district and committee and the firm Sunbug Solar.

The panels will produce 35,000 kilowatts, which will only put a small dent in the 1 million kilowatts the school uses each year. But as Belmont Light’s General Manager Craig Spinale said, ”the town has spoken by passing the Belmont [Climate Action Roadmap adopted by Town Meeting in 2019] on what they want so we will be offering our services to meet those initiatives.”

The array is expected to save the town $130,000 in utility costs over its lifetime.

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