Hamden encouraging solar panel use through new event

By Michael Brennan

As the world struggles to wean itself off of fossil fuels, the town of Hamden is taking the initiative to try and go green in a new event.

Photo from Town of Hamden Facebook 

Photo from Town of Hamden Facebook 

On Saturday, November 4, Hamden will hold its first-ever “Environmental Services Day.” The event is being held to encourage people to be more eco-friendly with food trucks, free electronics recycling, paper shredding, and a chance to learn about the benefits of renewable solar energy.

Haley Starvaggi, Hamden’s Solid Waste & Recycling Coordinator, said that she was inspired to address environmental concerns after many residents wanted to find an area to shred mass amounts of paper.

The contents of the event, such as hiring an outside company to shred large quantities of paper, were originally planned to be included in the farmer’s market held earlier in the year. When that did not pan out, this snowballed into an event that could educate the town about ways they could do their part in environmental conservation.

“The focus of the event is two things. It’s to reducing energy consumption at their house, as well as take care of recycling, some of those things you can’t put in your curbside bin… you are not advised to put shredded paper into your recycling bin. If you have important documents to shred, this is a more environmentally-friendly way to do it,” said Starvaggi.

Energy Efficiency Coordinator Kathleen Schomaker said that while she is not sure how much money can be saved in the average Hamden house by going solar, you can save money based on how many products using fossil fuels you convert into renewable energy.

An example of this Schomaker gave was that if you converted your house to solar power and then traded your car in for an energy efficient electric car, you would save more money and resources than if you converted your house without getting rid of your gas-powered car.

The event is being held in conjunction with Solarize CT, a partnership between the government and a company that installs solar panels, which is trying to convert people in Connecticut to solar power. They do this by selecting panel installers and help offset costs of converting a home to solar-powered energy with special financing options.

This is not the first time that Hamden has experimented with more efficient ways of fueling the town. According to New Haven Register, Hamden unanimously approved the construction of 4,000 solar panels in the Wintergreen Avenue landfill by True Green Capital, which will help save the town $600,000 in energy costs over 20 years.

Mayor Curt Leng released a statement praising Solarize CT’s mission and encouraged residents to find out if their house is able to be converted to solar power.

“The Town of Hamden is very happy to bring Solarize CT back to our residents for a second round. Hamden is committed to sustainability and this program is a great way for our residents to become involved and take control of their energy bills … It truly is a great way to save money and help our environment too!” said Leng.

Starvaggi said that if it is successful she would like it to happen annually.

“I think our ultimate goal is to attract people with the paper shredding and electronics recycling, and then while they’re here doing those things they would want to do no matter what, then they’ll stop by and get some more information that might get them thinking about improvements they might make around their house to reduce energy consumption,” said Starvaggi.

Environmental Services Day will happen on November 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2750 Dixwell Avenue in Hamden, Connecticut.