By Maureen Werther
A solar energy project at the former landfill on Weibel Avenue in Saratoga Springs is expected to be completed by the end of summer.
The solar energy park is part of NYSERDA’s Cleaner Greener Communities program. It was presented to the City Council in 2012 by Sustainable Saratoga and approved by the council in 2014.
The park is supported by a $1.46 million NY-Sun grant the city received in 2013 through NYSERDA. It suffered a series of setbacks, stemming in large part from the bankruptcy of the original vendor, Sun Edison. Following that, Onyx Renewables, headquartered in New York City, stepped in to design, engineer and build a two-megawatt solar array on the landfill.
According to Brian DeMaio, project manager for Onyx Renewable Partners, the solar array will be comprised of approximately 8,000 solar panels atop the former landfill, spanning 43 acres.
Michele Madigan, city Commissioner of Finance, spearheaded the project and said that a ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for some time in the coming weeks.
The city signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) committing it to purchasing all the electricity generated from the park at a fixed price over a 20-year period, according to documents from Sustainable Saratoga.
The solar park is the first phase of a large initiative to develop greener, sustainable energy projects around the city, which will benefit consumers and the city itself, as well as being environmentally responsible, said Madigan.
“This park will specifically benefit the city,” said Madigan. “We have identified accounts and we expect to see energy cost reductions in streets, lighting, the ice rink and other facilities,” said Madigan.
She said the electricity generated from the park will generate approximately 40 percent of the existing utility needs of the city.
Madigan said she has received positive feedback from the members of the surrounding community where the park is being erected.
The solar panels are non-reflecting, non-refracting and they do not produce any glare, said Madigan.
“I’m hearing that people are loving the project and feeling so proud of our community for developing and implementing this project,” she said.
According to Sustainable Saratoga, the solar energy park will not only reduce utility costs for the city, it will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Madigan said the second phase of the plans is still in the early planning stages. The goal is to develop an energy program that will give residents the chance to buy into a shared community solar arrangement, according to representatives from Sustainable Saratoga.