We all appreciate recycling and the desire to go green.
However both the Town of Greenwich and the State of Connecticut have made costly mistakes in their failed attempts at green energy projects.
In my town of Greenwich, green is in our name. We literally paint the town green. Even our benches are green. Like every good town, we get a little greener on St. Patrick’s Day in a parade I enjoy marching in! And we all feel good when we take our recycling and empty it at the dump.
However, in my short time on the RTM, I've learned that our town has a pretty "red" record of successfully implementing real “green” initiatives.
In addition to the press, I have been able to learn more about the Hamilton Avenue school with geothermal heating and cooling that is not working. As a result of various failures, the Town has been spending taxpayers hard-earned green money on temporary heat at a cost of nearly $450,000.
According to a November article in the Greenwich Time:
Greenwich Public Schools facilities director Dan Watson told the Board of Estimate and Taxation budget committee on Nov. 8, “We have experts telling us that it wasn't installed right, it wasn't operated right, it wasn't probably designed right.”
Talk about a real winning green team!
That's three failures: on design, installation, and operation. Zero for three is a losing record no matter how you look at it. All of these mistakes are paid by Greenwich taxpayers. Now Greenwich has to spend money either to revive the geothermal system or start over with a conventional HVAC system.
But have we learned from these mistakes? NO. There are proposals for using similar technology for the new Central Middle School.
Geothermal can be a promising solution, especially with the right design, implementation and training for maintenance. It’s just surprising that it has been such a catastrophe for Greenwich. Are we using the right engineers or installers? Do we have the right staff to operate this equipment? Based on the results, without more information, the answer is NO!
How does Greenwich fare on green initiatives that are low hanging fruit?
A Big F.
Take the New Lebanon School. It opened in 2019 as a green building with solar panels.
How much solar power has it generated? None. Why? Turns out, it has not even been fully installed! The contractor who installed the panels on the roof should have finished the job so that the school could use the electricity created by the solar panels. But sadly that is not the case.
In a time when Greenwich is proposing cuts to programs due to increased special ed-costs, sensible infrastructure is essential to the future of our Town. One should ask why are we looking at a bloated new Central Middle School with budget constraints? We should also ask ourselves whether the proposed new Central Middle School sized right. The idea of a two-story building with a smaller footprint should have been more seriously considered.
This is the green fairy tale for Greenwich, but similar green ideas run rampant throughout Connecticut, even bloated “green” windmills.
Like the literal windmills and the pier to assemble them, which is just a never-ending cost over-run. The cost of redeveloping the New London State Pier has skyrocketed by more than $47 million, which has made this project cost more than $300 million, with CT and Lamont issuing bonds to cover half of the additional shortfall. Meanwhile, at least half of the electricity is going to Long Island and does not benefit Connecticut residents that are footing a large portion of the bill. It should be further noted that Connecticut residents pay some of the highest rates for electricity in the country. Only islands like Hawaii pay more per kilowatt hour.
These green initiatives are not benefiting the Connecticut tax payer, nor improving the quality of life or outcomes for our school children. It is time to re-evaluate and debrief on the long-term failures of these policies which have not worked for more than a decade in Greenwich, and even longer throughout the state of Connecticut.
If we want cost effective green energy we must build mini-nuclear power plants and mini-hydroelectric plants.
Let’s make Connecticut a low cost energy state for the sake of the residents and businesses here and those that would be attracted to an affordable green energy state.