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GE developing nine solar sites in Schenectady County

GE developing nine solar sites in Schenectady County

Company will pick up the cost of installing the arrays
GE developing nine solar sites in Schenectady County
The 1944-panels installed four years ago on Hetcheltown Road in Glenville would be expanded as part of the project.
Photographer: GAZETTE FILE PHOTOGRAPH

SCHENECTADY COUNTY - General Electric will be developing nine solar energy sites on municipal properties in Schenectady County, which will collectively save taxpayers $461,270 per year, county officials announced Thursday.

The nine solar farms, which are being developed by the Schenectady County Solar Consortium, will generate 32 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in their first year of operation. Taxpayers will save because the municipalities receive a credit against their electric bills for the solar power that it produced.

GE and county officials at a meeting Wednesday finalized the details of the initiative, which they announced a year ago. GE is paying the entire cost of installing the solar arrays.

"Schenectady County is again leading the way in renewable energy that will save taxpayers more than $460,000 in year one, and more than $11.8 million over 25 years," said County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam. "This project is good for the environment and good for our taxpayers, once again demonstrating that working together works."

The city of Schenectady would see the largest savings, based on current estimates, at $217,000 off its annual electric bill -- a roughly 21 percent savings. Savings vary from town to town depending on how much power different municipal facilities use. But the average is expected to be 20 percent, according to county figures.

The solar energy consortium grew out of the countywide shared services plan developed in 2017-2018, and the county's separate project in which it is developing solar arrays on county land, in an effort to generate all the county's power from alternative sources by Dec. 31, 2021.

The consortium originally was considering up to 14 sites, but some failed to meet technical or other practical requirements.

The sites to be developed in Glenville include the former town landfill on Barhydt Road, a parcel off Van Buren Lane off Route 5, and an expansion of the existing county-owned solar site at the county recycling and compost center on Hetcheltown Road.

In Rotterdam, sites will include a town-owned property on Main Street in Rotterdam Junction, the former town landfill, and the site of the former L & M Motel on Rice Road in Rotterdam, which is owned by the county.

In Schenectady, selected sites at at the former city landfill on Cheltingham Avenue, and at the city wastewater treatment plant site on Anthony Street. The existing county solar farm in Niskayuna will also be expanded.

County Attorney Chris Gardner said all municipalities in the county, including towns like Princetown and Duanesburg that don't have any of the solar arrays, will benefit from the savings. The arrays will produce more power than the municipalities need, with the remaining credits to be shared with the public by a formula Gardner said is still being determined.

The arrays should also be producing power by next year. 

"The hope is to start construction in July and hope to have them all going by the end of the year," Gardner said.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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