By Dave Windsheimer
Skidmore College’s newest power source
derives from one of the planet’s oldest resources,
The Saratoga Springs-based institution
will soon begin tapping into a solar farm that
college officials expect will provide some
12 percent of the school’s annual electric
power needs. The project is just one of several
instances where Skidmore has turned to
sustainable sources of energy.
Michael Hall, Skidmore special assistant
to the vice president for finance and administration,
has led the solar effort. He said
the college is able to utilize green sources
of power because clean alternatives are now
proving to be economically competitive with
traditional sources of energy.
“This is good for the environment and isn’t
tough on the pocketbook,” he said.
Hall said college officials began looking toward
solar as a possible power source several
years ago, a time when New York state was not
providing incentives for businesses to utilize
the sun’s warmth and light. That changed in
2012 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into
law the NY-Sun Initiative, a program to help
encourage the use of solar power.
In 2013, the state approved a $2.35 million
grant to fund construction of the Skidmore
solar array, which is located on an eight-acre
section of a 120-acre parcel of property the
college owns on Denton Road in the Town of
Once the grant was awarded it took some
eight months, Hall said, to secure all necessary
approval from Greenfield town officials to
allow construction to begin. Some neighboring property owners expressed concern over
the possible negative impact of the project.
Hall said Skidmore officials worked “very
hard” to convince opponents that the solar
array would not be a detriment to the neighborhood.
The facility is bordered by a six-foot
cedar fence. The college has spent several
hundred-thousand dollars to plant trees and
other greenery to minimize the visual impact.
The Greenfield Town Board approved the
project in December. Construction on the
two-megawatt farm, made up of 6,950 solar
panels, began in March.
Hall said the construction was done by Dynamic
Energy Solutions of Wayne, Pa. While
the college owns the property, the solar array
site is leased to the builder, which will sell
the power to Skidmore.
The final step before the “on” button is
pushed is approval by National Grid.
The solar farm will soon join other sustainable
energy sources that Skidmore is now using.
According to Hall, the college is obtaining
some 4.8 million in kilowatt hours per year
(about 18 percent of the college’s electrical
needs) in hydroelectric power from a dam
located south of Albany.
The college has also been able to partially
move away from the use of natural gas for
heating and cooling purposes through the
use of geothermal energy, said Hall. About
40 percent of the campus (about 750,000
square feet) is now being heated and cooled
by geothermal means.
Hall hopes Skidmore’s efforts to diversify
its power sources sends a message to the
student body that “sustainable energy is
where it’s at.”