Another solar array is expected to be built in Niskayuna during 2019 — at the end of Alice Wagner Way.
The Town Board on Dec. 18 voted to authorize Supervisor Yasmine Syed to enter into a memorandum of agreement with General Electric International relating to the Schenectady County Solar Energy Consortium.
The consortium, created in 2017, has lofty goals. County officials hope consortium members are 100 percent solar-powered by Dec. 31, 2021. Several local municipalities are part of the group.
The green energy generated will represent a double play — saving taxpayers money on electric costs and also eliminating carbon emissions caused by the utilization of fossil fuels to produce electricity.
"The county has really been focused on solar for a number of years now," said board member Denise Murphy McGraw, who chairs the town's public works committee. "They have, in other locations such as Glenville and Rotterdam, put up solar panels. It's an initiative they believe in very strongly."
McGraw said the county's solar plan will utilize General Electric technology, some of which has been developed in Niskayuna.
County officials first thought Niskayuna's planned array — one is already in place at Niskayuna Town Hall — might be a good fit for WTRY Road, near the town's water and sewer and highway department garages.
Town officials disagreed.
"We really didn't feel like there would be enough there," McGraw said, adding that the town buildings take up enough space. "There really wouldn't be enough land. There's enough going on there in that residential neighborhood.
"Even though the town owns that property," McGraw added, "we just didn't feel it was a good location for us."
The county is planning to build the array on 10 acres of county-owned land on the western end of Alice Wagner Way.
A pollinator garden will be part of the plan. The Town Hall array contains flowers and plants designed to attract plant pollinators such as bees and butterflies. It was the first municipal solar pollinator garden in New York state.
"That's important," McGraw said of the garden that will be planted with the new array. "We just didn't want to clear land and put solar panels there after being the first town in the state to have these municipal solar pollinator gardens. We had to have that if we were going to be clearing lands. We wanted to have the pollinators there as well."
Niskayuna will not have to pay any project costs.
Supervisor Yasmine Syed will welcome the new panels.
"I think it's a great project," she said. "I'm glad the town of Niskayuna is going to be joining with all the other municipalities in Schenectady County. It's a great collaborative consortium on behalf of Schenectady County."
Power harvested could be used by town buildings, in schools, in residential areas. "We'll all be on the same grid," Syed said.
McGraw also said the Alice Wagner Way area is a mostly industrial area, with significant amount of power company equipment present.
"I think it's really keeping more with what's going on over there," she said.
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]