By the end of the year, the sun shining on the roof of the Ralph Walker pavilion will mean a chillier ice-skating rink inside.
That’s because the sun’s rays will strike new solar panels mounted atop the rink’s roof, powering the chillers that keep the ice frozen inside.
The Board of Aldermen Monday evening approved a plan to install the panels. They will save the city about $5,000 per year, according to Giovanni Zinn, who works on environmental sustainability programs for the city.
The plan is an expansion of an agreement with a company called SolarCity, which has installed panels of four New Haven public schools. Under the deal, SolarCity owns the panels, and the city pays the company for the electricity they generate, which is cheaper than normal electricity rates.
The current electricity bill at Ralph Walker is between $60,000 and $70,000 annually, said Zinn (pictured). The city will pay SolarCity about $10,000 for the electricity generated by the panels at the rink, which are expected to generate about 25 percent of the building’s total power, equalling a savings of about $5,000 per year.
The panels are also a “hedge against future power price increases,” Zinn said. Even if the power company starts charging a lot more for electricity, the price of solar power won’t change.
Zinn said the panels should be up this fall, in time for solar-powered ice-skating this winter.