Madison using solar energy to power electric tools

EP-140419939Nestled in the rear of the Surf Club, town officials on Thursday introduced a new effort toward achieving clean energy: a maintenance trailer outfitted with solar power.

The trailer, which mainly houses landscaping equipment, was recently furnished with solar panels on its roof that can generate 1.3 kilowatts of power. The electricity generated by the panels feeds into chargers that power electric tools.

First Selectman Fillmore McPherson called the process “using solar power to power tools” and said the town would be replacing gasoline-powered tools in favor of the electric tools.

“We’ll be gradually buying battery tools to replace the others,” McPherson said.

On Thursday, facilities employees displayed an electric blower and weed whacker while explaining how the tools work with battery packs and without producing the odor and cacophony associated with gasoline engines.

The 8½-by-21-foot black trailer was purchased by the town over the winter, and the solar panels were donated and installed by Aegis Solar Energy, which partnered with the town for the CT Solar Challenge, said Woodie Weiss, the town’s Energy and Efficiency Commission chairman. The challenge is aimed at promoting the use of clean energy by advertising its impacts and offering tax credits and rebates to cut its cost.

McPherson said the municipality’s properties would be maintained with tools used from the trailer.

Bill McMinn, the town’s facilities director, said the older gasoline-powered tools were less reliable than the electric tools. “With today’s gas and carburetors, you’re prone to a lot of breakdowns,” McMinn said.

Noting the benefits associated with the electric tools, McMinn said the tools would make work easier on facilities employees.

“There’s no smoke, less pollution and less noise,” McMinn said. “The electric tools are really quiet.”

McMinn added that the lack of an odor and commotion from the tools would be more convenient to residents while facilities employees are working.

Original Article at The New Haven Register (http://www.nhregister.com)
Thursday, April 10, 2014, By Sean Carlin