The sailors living in U.S. Navy housing in Saratoga Springs are now lighting their quarters with solar power.
The 200 housing units serving the Navy’s Kesselring Site in nearby Milton are among more than 1,300 at five Northeast military installations to get rooftop solar panels as part of a public-private partnership between the Navy; solar panel company SolarCity; and Balfour Beatty Communities, the Pennsylvania company that operates the apartment and townhouse complex in Saratoga Springs under contract for the Navy.
Aaron Rogers of SolarCity said the project follows the model the company uses at most residential properties:
“We’re selling them the power, they’re net metering with the local utility, the utility is crediting them with the energy they’re feeding into the grid.”
He said the electric bill is included in the rent the sailors pay, so they won’t see any savings, but they will be using and supporting solar power, something renters don’t often get a chance to do.
The money that Balfour saves on utilities will be spent on maintenance and improvements at the site, Roger said.
Most buildings on site got the panels, though a few could not, due to orientation or shape of the roof. A total of 86 systems with a combined potential generating capacity of 398 kilowatts were installed here, making it one of the smaller installations in the initiative. The four other Navy sites — in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Long Island — saw more than 1,200 rooftop systems installed, in total, with a power generating capacity of more than 7 megawatts. Those other four housing sites also are managed by Balfour Beatty.
The projects are part of SolarCity’s nationwide initiative to install solar panels on military bases: SolarStrong, an ambitious plan to invest more than $1 billion worth of solar projects to provide power to 120,000 military homes nationwide.
Rogers said there weren’t any special challenges to installing 86 solar arrays at the military housing facility.
“We’ve kind of encountered every sort of situation and have a lot of solutions,” he said.
In fact, the economy of scale — seven dozen installations in one tight area at once, rather than one here, one there and two in the next county next week — made the project faster and easier to complete.
Balfour Beatty spokesman Sam Boykin said these projects also provide a look at how a neighborhood of solar-powered homes might function as part of the regional electrical infrastructure. “This is unique in that an entire community has solar on it. It’s a good testbed for the future — how does the grid respond to that?”
The Saratoga Springs housing area — officially known as Naval Support Activity — comprises 100 two-bedroom apartments, 50 two-bedroom townhouses and 50 three-bedroom townhouses. The other military facilities to get solar panels were the Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Lakehurst, New Jersey; Naval Station, Newport, Rhode Island; and Mitchell Field, East Meadow, New York.
Balfour Beatty, which manages more than 50,000 residential units worth over $6 billion, previously teamed up with SolarCity to develop 13.3 megawatts of rooftop solar capacity at the U.S. Army’s Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.
Reach Gazette business editor John Cropley at 395-3104, [email protected] or @cropjohn on Twitter.