Schenectady County

Schenectady County project targets more solar power

The Schenectady County Legislature plans to meet Wednesday to approve a deal allowing Monolith Solar

The Schenectady County Legislature plans to meet Wednesday to approve a deal allowing Monolith Solar Associates to build nearly 2,000 solar panels on county-owned land in Glenville.

The 1,980 ground-mounted panels will more than double the county’s solar energy production and save it an estimated $30,000 on energy bills, county spokesman Joe McQueen said.

The panels would be installed next year on three acres of the 100-acre county Compost Facility and Resident Recycling Center on Hetcheltown Road and produce an estimated 603.9 kilowatts of energy, McQueen said. The county’s current stock of solar panels at the County Recreation Facility, the Rotterdam Branch Library and County Business Center produce about 600 kW for an annual savings of $25,000.

“Not only will we save on our electric bills, benefiting our taxpayers, but we’ll continue our efforts to be environmentally responsible and leave Schenectady County a better place for our families into the future,” said Jeff McDonald, chairman of the Legislature’s Facilities Committee, in a news release.

The county’s plan to save money through solar energy is the latest such effort by a local municipality. In October, the city of Schenectady announced the completion of a solar array in Niskayuna that will save the city an estimated $42,000 a year.

The Legislature will vote to approve the placement of the panels at the Glenville site during a special meeting at 7 p.m. The cost of the installation, estimated at $2.5 million, would be covered by Monolith, the recipient of financial incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, through a 20-year purchase agreement. The county would get a 30 percent discount on electricity produced by the panels.

“It’s all savings for us,” McQueen said.

Once the installation is complete, the county plans to pursue more solar projects, according to the news release. The county has been approved by NYSERDA to generate up to 2.2 megawatts of solar power. An application for 5 mW, which would save the county an estimated $300,000-plus per year, is pending. Over 20 years, with 5 mW of solar power, the county would save more than $6 million and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 759,000 pounds each year, the release said.

The county will be looking for other locations on which to build more solar panels, McQueen said.

“We could never have one site that has 5 mW of energy being created because the grid can’t handle that,” he said.

The county farm was ideal for phase one of the solar expansion because it is county-owned, McQueen said.

“We don’t have to spend any money to purchase land or to rent space to be able to do this,” he explained.

He declined to say whether the installation would begin in the spring or summer, because weather will play a factor.

“We’re doing this now so that we can get started with the new year,” he said.

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