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To the Editor:
West Hartford set a goal in the 2021 Comprehensive Energy Plan to use 100% clean energy throughout the community by 2050. Large-scale solar canopies, such as those covering parking lots, can play a significant role in achieving that goal, and installations of such arrays should be undertaken as soon as possible throughout West Hartford.
Solar canopies or carports are estimated to have the capacity to produce 135.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year at 63 West Hartford locations. That amount of electricity production represents 37% of the town’s 2019 electricity usage! When paired with maximum municipal, commercial, and residential rooftop solar production, estimated at 226 GWh per year, nearly 100% of the city’s current 369 GWh consumption can be generated (based on a recent report by People’s Action for Clean Energy [PACE]).
In addition to significant energy production, solar canopies can prevent the Heat Islands effect, collect and divert rainwater, host Electric Vehicle charging stations, and offer protection from the elements.
Solar canopies can also be used to create microgrids – small, self-sustaining local power systems that can disconnect from main power grids during outages to maintain electricity distribution to adjoining neighborhoods. These microgrids are providing greater resilience during extreme weather events. Don’t you wish your neighborhood had had a microgrid after Tropical Storm Isaias swept through the area in 2020?
Installing solar canopies is a big undertaking, including cost considerations, but can provide a big benefit. West Hartford should start planning these projects now.
Join the West Hartford Sierra Club group for a presentation on large-scale solar canopies and an overview of residential ground-mounted solar installations (small canopies) by Bernard Pelletier, of People’s Action for Clean Energy, on March 15 at 5:30 p.m. at Noah Webster library in the Meeting Room.
Christine Feely, West Hartford resident
Executive Committee Member
Sierra Club Greater Hartford Group