The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and Tri-County Energy Consortium today announced construction is underway on a 2.5 megawatt (MW) solar array to enable schools and municipalities in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties and part of Franklin County to participate in a new clean solar power project.
NYSERDA has provided more than $1 million in support for the approximate $7.6 million project to help reduce the electricity costs for 35 schools, towns and villages that have signed up to participate.
The project advances the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system by helping to make clean energy a possible choice for more schools and municipalities. School district and municipal leaders formed The Tri-County Energy Consortium to capitalize on economies of scale that will yield benefits to communities for decades.
The announcement was made at the groundbreaking for the project today in Watertown. The project will feed solar energy to the grid operated by National Grid and will allow schools and municipalities in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties to participate in this local clean power generation and save money on their electricity bills. St. Lawrence BOCES is also a project partner.
“This solar project demonstrates Governor Cuomo’s clean energy at work, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensure energy savings for communities in the North Country,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “We applaud these partners who help schools and municipalities share in the benefits of locally produced solar power.”
The 2.5 MW off-site, ground-mounted solar array is located on the Jefferson-Lewis BOCES campus in Watertown. The array will generate more than 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, equivalent to the electricity needed to power approximately 423 average-sized homes.
The innovative project is modeled after the BOCES principle of sharing savings proportional to usage. Each participating school district and local government will receive savings on their electric bills in proportion to the percentage of electricity they use out of the total for all participants. See a complete list of participating schools and communities.
Frederick E. Hall, Jr., President, Tri County Energy Consortium, Executive & Board of Directors, said, “This inaugural solar array project marks the start of the Tri County Energy Consortium’s efforts to bring savings to its members, enhance New York State’s clean energy portfolio, and create a system of shared inter-municipal projects with direct positive results for the people of the North Country. I am personally proud of the dedication, outside-the-box thinking, and ability of all people involved. While this marks the start, it is extremely exciting knowing that so much more is to come as we work together for the people we serve.”
Stephen J. Todd, District Superintendent, Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES, said, “Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES is honored to be a part of this exciting project. By partnering in the innovative Tri County Energy Consortium, participating schools and municipalities will save a considerable amount of money over the next 20 years. Local taxpayers, local schools, and local communities will benefit tremendously from this savings. We are also pleased that by embracing sustainable energy sources, consortium partners are doing our part to protect the natural environment.”
The project is being developed through a power purchase agreement with Solar City, which will own the solar array. The project is the first of three 2.5 megawatt arrays to be constructed by the Tri-County Energy Consortium to help schools and municipalities offset electricity costs,with the two future projects to be constructed in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties. The Tri-County Energy Consortium would like to develop a total of 50 MW of solar in the North Country in order to offset 80 percent of the electricity used by the schools, towns and villages that have signed up.
For more information on this Tri-County Energy Consortium project, please contact John Warneck, director, Tri-County Energy Consortium at (315) 955-9997.
New York State is undertaking significant changes in the way it generates and delivers energy. The Shared Renewables Initiative is part of a comprehensive effort to grow installed solar through NY-Sun, Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.
Solar in New York State has increased 575 percent between 2012 and 2015, and the State now ranks fourth in the number of people employed in the solar industry and fifth in total annual solar installations, up from ninth in 2013.