HARVARD -- Despite several delays and a complete change of venue, the hope is that a 5-kilowatt, roof-mounted solar array will be up and running by year's end atop the Hildreth Elementary School gymnasium.

But even Harvard Energy Advisory Committee member Jim Elkind admits that forecast may not be realistic.

The town filed suit against the contractor, Ostrow Electrical Company of Worcester, on Aug. 28 at Worcester Superior Court for failure to perform under contract.

Nonetheless, Elkind said the company has asked to continue work on the job in light of the tight time frame the town is under to use grant money earmarked for the project by the end of the year.

Work is now scheduled to be complete in mid November else "if for some reason this contract were to stop, we'd have a chance to go elsewhere and get it done," said Elkind.

School Principal Linda Dwight, facilities manager Mark Force and Interim School Superintendent Joseph Connelly were due to imminently schedule a pre-construction meeting to chart a timetable for work. At this point, construction is slated to occur during the school day.

"Are there any financial implications to us?" asked School Committee Chair SusanMary Redinger. "Not for us," said Elkind.

School Committee member Keith Cheveralls said the project harkens back to July 2010, when the committee "jumped through proverbial hoops" to meet a grant-specific deadline.


Still, no solar array.

"With the history of dealing with this vendor, why do you believe they'll get this done now?" asked Cheveralls.

"Trip wires" in the new schedule will mean trouble for the company, which now wishes to complete the project, said Elkind. Also, the lawsuit "got their attention."

"Your comment is spot on," said Elkind to Cheveralls. "I don't have a lot of confidence based on the history. Now that we've brought suit and they've been served, they've indicated they'd rather go through the project."

The project is receiving $35,700 in grant funding, with $23,000 disbursed, said Cheveralls. "We have nothing to show for it."

"They have the materials," agreed Elkind. "We don't possess them."

There could be as much as a $5,000 financial impact to the town if the revised construction timetable is not met, said Elkind. Contingency sums have already been used in retooling the solar-array plans from The Bromfield School to Hildreth Elementary School, said Elkind.

With commitments afoot, "If we don't get the grant, it has to come out of the town's funds."

"We're not going to be paying this vendor anything until the work is completed and until you're satisfied and the Building Inspector is satisfied," said Cheveralls, who said he'd balk at signing a warrant to make payment otherwise.

Working on the gym roof is expected to be "the least disruptive of all the roof space at HES," said Elkind. "We'll cover all those issues at the pre-construction meeting. We'll have certain times trucks are allowed and put fences up for storage of equipment." The educational program will remain "our first priority."

"I have roofers now," said Cheveralls. "It's a noise box. The noise reverberates."

"This is a little different construction," said Elkind. "We sort of have them over a barrel." If they can't perform during the school day in a quiet fashion, they've agreed to work outside of school hours.

After work is done in mid-October, National Grid needs another 3 to 4 weeks to swap the meter, meaning the array would be operational by late November or early December.

The first trip wire? Ostrow Electrical must file its building permit for the array by Monday, Oct. 1.

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