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Schenectady County Takes A Giant Step Toward Solar Power

WAMC Composite Photo by Dave Lucas

Local officials and General Electric have announced what they tout as the largest and most ambitious municipal solar project to date in New York.

Schenectady County and the Schenectady County Solar Energy Consortium say they will partner with GE to develop and build a network of solar farms that if fully implemented will generate up to 45 megawatts of solar energy capacity throughout Schenectady County. Democratic Schenectady County Legislator Rory Fluman:   "And this conservatively again is gonna save all of our participants an aggregate of $1.5 million a year each year through a revenue save by paying less on our electric bills."

Fluman says the county initiated its solar program back in 2011. The project is made possible through the NY-SUN program, which promotes solar energy.   "Today we're producing about five megawatts of power annually, but the great thing about this project is we're talking about going from five to 45 megawatts of solar energy production. Currently we have projects on Hetcheltown Road, Hillside Business Park, Burdick Street, Wedgewood Heights. We have rooftop solar installations at our county rec center and ice rink, our highway garage, libraries... we have the Phyllis Bornt Branch and Rotterdam Branch libraries and the Schenectady County Business Center. These initiatives are efforts to be leaders in renewable energy by partnering with local governments to expand our existing solar production efforts."

Proposed Consortium Solar Park Sites:


County of Schenectady         2 sites                6.0 MW

City of Schenectady              2 sites                4.5 MW

Town of Rotterdam              5 sites              11.0 MW

Town of Niskayuna              1 site                  1.5 MW

Town of Glenville                  3 sites              11.5 MW

Village of Delanson               4 sites                8.0 MW

Town of Duanesburg            1 site                  3.5 MW

Total Project Potential:         18 sites            46.0 MW

Democratic state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara of the 111th district says the solar farms will be built by GE at no expense to county taxpayers.   “As a civil engineer, I strongly believe that solar energy is the way of the future and this project will keep Schenectady County moving in the right direction. The project will enable municipal governments in the county to be 100 percent solar powered and will save taxpayers $45 million over the next 25 years. Additionally, there is potential for even further cost savings if power can also be diverted to local school districts."

Again, Rory Fluman:  "Our goals are 2020 for the county to reach our energy-saving goals and by the end of 2021 for all our partner municipalities to reach their energy-saving goals. And we're well on our way."

Assemblyman Santabarbara added, “This project takes advantage of our state’s historic commitment of nearly $1 billion dollars for the NY-SUN program, to significantly expand deployment of solar capacity throughout New York and transform our solar industry.”

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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