Guilderland gives green light for green power

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Jeff Conrad, the vice president of SolomonEnergy, addresses the Guilderland Town board at its Jan. 7 meeting. On  Jan. 21, the board voted unanimously to enter into an energy-savings agreement with his company.

GUILDERLAND — If all goes according to plan, the town may be operating on solar power — at least partially — by the summer.

The town board voted unanimously on Tuesday to enter into an energy-savings agreement with SolomonEnergy, a company that put together a preliminary analysis on how solar power might work in Guilderland, and will now perform a more detailed study and organize requests for proposals.

There will be no cost to the town for the agreement, even if, after it is finished, the town decides not to go forward with solar power after the detailed study is complete; the only cost for the town would be the cost of the energy it would purchase from the private company that would own the solar power system.

This would replace the energy it buys from National Grid.

Currently, the town of Guilderland spends nearly $500,000 per year on electricity, and, if solar power is successful, the town hopes to save nearly $1.5 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.

SolomonEnergy originally, in an analysis presented to the town board on Jan. 7, identified 11 possible sites for solar panels, mounted in different ways — on the roof, on the ground, or on top of to-be-built carports.

At the board meeting on Jan. 21, Jeff Conrad, the vice president of SolomonEnergy, cited the potential locations for the panels — town hall, at the department of public works, at the capped landfill, at the water department, at three parks and recreation sites, and at the golf course.

He stated, however, that not all of the sites would actually work for solar panels, in the end. For instance, the preliminary analysis showed that a solar panel could be installed on the roof of the parks and recreation building, but Conrad said, upon further review, he didn’t think the small building would allow a panel sizeable enough to make sense.

He went on to say that there could be issues that limit installation in other locations, as well, although they wouldn’t be discovered until the company completed its more detailed site study.

Limitations could include roof conditions — roofs have to be in good shape to install solar panels — or settling soil at the capped landfill.

“The preliminary analysis was just our take on different locations and sizes,” said Conrad. “It was all best-case scenario.”

The next step for the town will be to work with SolomonEnergy to put out requests for proposals to find a private company to build and manage the solar-power equipment, from which the town would purchase the energy generated.

According to Conrad, there could be a savings of 10 to 50 percent using solar energy instead of electricity, because the power would be produced locally, saving on distribution costs. The cost of solar energy is also projected to increase at a much lower rate, annually, than the cost of electricity, and solar panels are warranted for more than 20 years, eliminating maintenance costs.

Conrad said the tentative timeline involves completing the detailed study, developing requests for proposals, and selecting a provider by the end of the winter; installing equipment in the spring; and having the system in operation by the summer.

“Let’s go green!” proclaimed Councilman Paul Pastore, at the end of the meeting.

Other business

The town board, at its meeting on Jan. 21, voted unanimously to:

  • Waive the building permit fees for 3905 Carman Road, damaged by fire on Dec. 20, 2013;
  • Go out to bid for the grinding and removal of yard waste from the town’s transfer station;
  • Release the escrow for the Saddlebrook Subdivision;
  • Accept an offer from the state of New York for property to be acquired for the Route 20 sidewalk project; and,
  • Re-appoint Merritt Glennon as an alternate member of the board of assessment and review.

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