Councilors Worry About Fate of Tilton School Solar Project

(File photograph.)

Tilton School, 70 Grove St.

Remembering a split vote by their counterparts on the Haverhill School Committee squashed a proposed solar installation at Haverhill High School, some city councilors are privately worried about the fate of a similar project at Tilton School.

Haverhill School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey.

Haverhill School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey expressed concern last June about a vendor who will also work on a solar array at Tilton School.

Councilors Tuesday supported a 20-year power purchase and maintenance easement agreement between the city and Invaleon Solar Technologies, which would construct a 73.8 kilowatt grid interconnected, ground-mounted solar electric system at Tilton. However, councilors are mindful of individual school committee objections about the vendor and weight on the roof. Council President John A. Michitson, in an interview with WHAV, said he is confident Tilton’s roof will hold the equipment.

“The Tilton School, strangely enough, has a strong roof. I guess they don’t build buildings like they used to a hundred years ago,” Michitson said. He added the roof’s structural integrity, compared with weight load concerns at the high school, should not be an issue with the School Committee.

Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson.

Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson.

“One of the issues from the school committee, on the high school roof, was that they were concerned those kinds of installations are risky. In this case it’s even less a risk because of the solid base,” Michitson added.

The city would pay 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour from the array, anticipated to supply about 60 percent of the school’s electric use.

School Committee members, in a 3 to 3 vote last June, defeated plans by MassAmerican Energy of Marlborough for a 2.2 megawatt solar energy array and replacement roof atop Haverhill High School. A month later, Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr., among the opponents, suggested the city could undertake the project itself instead of sharing electricity revenue and savings with MassAmerican. He described the company as merely a “broker.”

Invaleon had worked with MassAmerican Energy on a rooftop array above its rented space on Parkridge Road. Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey, as reported by WHAV in August, alleged Invaleon CEO Tom K. Wu worked with a potential “felon.” Wu, who spoke during the council’s Aug. 9 meeting, called for an apology from the city, school committee or Toohey. He said remarks about his employee are false since the person in question neither pleaded guilty nor was convicted of any crime. He added his company was not involved in the high school project.

“I do have a problem with a company that’s less than six months old, that has relationships, and my students are on the roof or doing business or communicating with someone who’s pled guilty to a felony,” charged Toohey at the time.

The next scheduled School Committee meeting is Thursday, Dec. 15.  WHAV placed calls to Toohey and Wood, Pacheo and Chief of Staff David S. Van Dam for further comment.

7 thoughts on “Councilors Worry About Fate of Tilton School Solar Project

  1. councilor michitson would put our kids safety at risk to save a couple of cents …how did this meathead ever get elected to the city council. his kids go to private school. he has no skin in the tilton school game. tilton tigers rise up.

  2. Parents with kids at Tilton School: How confident does it make you feel about the safety of your child to hear a politician say “I am confident Tilton’s roof will hold the equipment”? City officials are now making life and death decisions based on a “gut feeling” ?

    Parents need to demand that a load bearing study be done by a certified Engineering firm. They also need a confirmation that the mayor hasn’t signed off on any waivers of liability for the insurance company underwriting the policy on Tilton School in the event there is an accident.