O&G’s Southbury Quarry goes green with solar panels

O&G Engineering & Project Manager Matt Tobin pictured at the Southbury Quarry Solar Farm.

O&G Indistries, Connecticut’s largest privately owned construction company, has a history of going green at many of its facilities in the state.

In conjunction with a yearlong series of upgrades at its state facilities, despite a brief impact from the coronavirus the past month, O&G Industries completed one of its largest green upgrades when its Southbury Quarry facility went live with a massive 1.3-megawatt solar panel array on 5 acres of land at the site on Roxbury Road.

Seth Duke, O&G marketing manager and spokesperson, said the planning, engineering and permitting for the project began in the fall of 2018. Construction of the facility’s solar array began in June with the site clearing, while racking and panel installation began in October.

According to a recent O&G news release, the 3,762-panel array is coupled with a 280-kilowatt energy storage system that will help augment supply during peak demand cycles. This includes early morning hours when the sun isn’t strong enough to generate at full capacity, while demand at the facility peaks with the startup of the quarry and asphalt plant operations.

“The system was officially energized — flipping the switch, so to speak — on March 27,” O&G Enginering and Project Manager Matt Tobin said. “The Southbury solar project is our largest investments into sustainability this past year. With solar, you need a large footprint with good southern exposure to generate enough power for industrial uses. We were lucky enough to have the space in Southbury along with the necessary electrical infrastructure which helped to drive the project.

“When we looked at how we could best utilize solar, we were also concerned with our energy consumption during peak demand cycles. Like most businesses, we start up our operations in the morning. This creates a huge energy demand on the regional power grid. That was the reasoning behind the battery technology we implemented. That way we could draw from our own reserves, reduce the demand during our supplier’s highest demand cycles and take some stress off the power grid.”

The solar array will produce the energy equivalent necessary to power 150 homes. The project is one of three solar projects that O&G has developed with the quarry installation being the first of its kind in the state. In addition, solar panels have also been installed on the rooftops of the company’s maintenance facility in Torrington and mason supply showroom in Bridgeport.

Tobin also said the solar array will be a benefit to the Southbury community.

“The project will cut carbon emissions at the quarry by a significant amount,” Tobin said. “We estimate the annual emissions will cut by 1,183 tons per year, according to Solect. That’s equivalent to taking approximately 225 cars off the local roads or what’s produced by 110-115 homes each year. During peak electrical usage times, such as a hot summer day, we will have a reduced demand on the electrical grid.”

Although restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic had a brief impact on the solar panel project, most of the project had been completed when the virus arrived.

“Luckily, the vast majority of the project had been completed prior to COVID 19 restrictions,” Duke said. “The restrictions did slow down the commissioning and final completion of the project and impacted the battery installation.”

The Southbury Quarry is one of six quarries in the state operated by O&G Industries. The quarry houses an asphalt plant, concrete plant and is an active mining operation where trap rock — a form of crushed stone — is produced for projects throughout the region.

Duke said the solar arrays are one of many sustainable and energy saving initiatives O&G Industries in Connecticut has undertaken in the past year, with more upgrades being done. According to the release, in New Milford and Stamford, among other locations, the company continues to improve its facilities by upgrading burner controls, adding variable frequency fan drives, eliminating air leaks and installing insulation on tanks and piping at the company’s asphalt plants.

When the upgrades are completed, the plants are expected to achieve much greater energy efficiency.

The Southbury Quarry project was completed in collaboration with Eversource, Solect Energy and EnelX.

To read the full story, visit CT Insider.