The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is expecting to save more than $500,000 over the next 25 years after adding solar panels at two warehouses, including its flagship warehouse near Albany International Airport.
The panels have been installed as part of a deal with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is contributing $353,000 as the warehouse on Albany-Shaker Road undergoes a $2 million expansion.
"We are always looking for ways to reduce our operating expenses so we can maximize the impact on our core mission -- to alleviate hunger and prevent food waste," said Mark Quandt, the food bank's executive director.
Under its arrangement with the non-profit food bank, NYSERDA paid for a portion of the 2,673 panels under the NY-Sun program, part of a state effort to increase the percentage of electricity generated from renewable resources to 50 percent by 2030.
The solar panels are expected to generate about 60 percent of the power needed at the regional warehouse and a second distribution center in Orange County. NYSERDA said the 973,000 kilowatt-hours of annual generation would be enough to supply 135 average houses.
The food bank has significant power needs because it most refrigerate much of the food it receives in donations to be distributed to the disadvantaged. The panels are expected to save the food bank $520,000 over 25 years, according to NYSERDA.
The panels will also allow the food bank to stagger the recharging of its battery-powered forklifts, rather than recharging them all at the same time.
"The solar projects are providing the regional food bank with more options in its warehousing operations," said Bill Jordan, CEO of Jordan Energy & Food Enterprises of Troy, an energy consultant who worked with the food bank.
Dynamic Energy, which has offices in Saratoga Springs, designed and built the systems under a lease agreement that will transfer the panels to the food bank's ownership after 25 years.
The regional food bank serves 23 counties in eastern New York.