The city is being encouraged to locate solar panels on top of the long-closed landfill on Weibel Avenue as a way to save money and help the environment.
Larry Toole, a board member of Sustainable Saratoga, outlined the “Spa Solar Park” proposal at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
He said other communities in New York and nearby states have embraced solar energy. Sustainable Saratoga is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that promotes local efforts to sustain and protect the environment.
The city would seek requests for proposals from solar energy developers to build a solar park on the closed landfill, Toole said.
Sustainable Saratoga has developed a 30-page report on a variety of financial models for solar energy development.
“The conclusion is that there is a way to do it so the city does not put money up front for the project,” Toole said.
The project would include two phases.
The first phase is developing solar energy to be used for the city’s needs.
A power purchase agreement would be negotiated between the city and the solar power developer to buy power “at virtually no risk to the city,” Toole said.
The solar panels would provide some but not all of the city’s electricity needs.
The second phase of the project would be having solar energy at the landfill available to the community to be used for residences and businesses.
Each of the two phases would provide 1 megawatt of electricity.
Toole said the town of Clifton Park was also considering a solar power project at its closed landfill based on a different concept than the one outlined by Sustainable Saratoga.
City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said she finds the solar concept exciting.
“This is an excellent time to move forward,” she said. She referred to millions of dollars in grant money available in 2013 from the state’s Cleaner, Greener energy program and from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Mayor Scott Johnson said he is a member of the city’s Climate Smart Committee that has been looking into solar energy to offset energy costs at the city’s ice rinks.
The committee has found that solar projects have been stalled by state regulations, or the lack of them, in some cases.