Kittatinny solar project to resume

Project to include renovation of wooded island


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  • The canopy solar panel installation at the Merriam School in Newton in September 2012. Photo by Jennifer Jean Miller.



By Jessica Lopez

— Hoping to complete a solar project first planned in 2012, the Kittatinny Board of Education is preparing to renovate the wooded island in front of Kittatinny Regional High School.

When construction was initiated last year, a solar canopy was installed in one of the high school’s parking lots, along with roof mounts. The project, scoped by SunLight General Capital, is meant to generate savings for the high school as the solar panels feedback energy into the building.

The solar project, however, was put on hold after Sunlight’s contractor MasTec filed a lawsuit against them, alleging they were paid only $33 million for more than $79.2 million of services.

Municipal bonds from Somerset, Morris and Sussex counties were frozen as a result of the lawsuit, which has recently been resolved.

“Now that the construction lien has been lifted between Sunlight General and its contractor, we have been approached to resume the roof mounts,” said Business Administrator Kathy Kane.

The board is planning to proceed with the original scope of the work to make a smaller island, cutting down trees on it to allow more light to teach the rooftop solar panels. Sunlight and its contractor plan to cut the trees, mulch them, then grass and seed the smaller island.

The school administration said the removal of the trees would provide better security, allowing a greater line of sight to the front of the school.

“More solar is great. A smaller island would be great too, especially with the new security vestibule [that the school plans to build near the entrance],” said Superintendent Craig Hutcheson.

Plans also potentially include a small park for students on the island, Kane said at the May 15 BOE meeting.

High school Principal Christian Angelillo talked about getting students to generate ideas for renovating the island.

“It would make a great Eagle Scout project,” he said.

Providing solar

The company behind the solar project, Sunlight Capital, “develops, finances, owns and operates solar energy projects,” according to their website.

The New York-based company also has built and operates solar energy sites at Byram Lakes Elementary School and Sussex County Community College.

According to their website, Byram Lakes will generate almost 600,000 kilowatts this year, with a savings of $66,000.

The college is estimated to output 1.2 million kilowatts, with $139,000 in estimated savings.

Kittatinny Regional High School is also a member of the Sussex County Renewable Energy Program for solar power.

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