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Partners break ground on new solar field

May 03, 2017

Photo courtesy: City of Rochester NY (Twitter)
Jessica Alaimo
May 3, 2017

Mayor Lovely A. Warren celebrated the start of construction today on a new Solar Field that will convert a portion of the old Emerson Street Landfill into a solar-energy production facility that will help power City Hall and divert more than 2,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

“Climate Change is real and thanks to projects like this Solar Field, the City of Rochester is at the forefront of efforts to address it,” said Mayor Warren. “I want to thank the New York State Energy and Research Authority and all of the agencies in Governor Cuomo’s administration for helping us make Rochester a more sustainable city, which helps us create more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our citizens. I also want to welcome our new Solar Field owners and operators to Rochester and wish them luck as we work together to protect our city’s environment.”

The project received more than $800,000 in funding through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion NY- Sun initiative, which is designed to build a self-sustaining solar industry in New York and help achieve strategic energy goals under REV and the Clean Energy Standard, which requires that 50 percent of electricity generated in New York come from renewable sources by 2030.

“Congratulations to the City of Rochester for this exceptional project and blazing a trail when it comes to transitioning to sustainable energy practices and reducing energy costs,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Under Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading energy agenda, solar power is integral to driving the state’s clean energy economy and creating a more resilient and reliable energy system for all New Yorkers.”

The new Solar Field will hold 7,866 solar panels that will generate approximately 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity in its first year. The field will be built, owned and operated by AES Distributed Energy of Boulder, Colo., which is working with Solar Liberty of Buffalo.

“We are extremely excited to break ground on this solar project with the City of Rochester, and look forward to a long-term and successful partnership,” said Woody Rubin, President of AES Distributed Energy. “Constructing this project on a capped landfill allows us to take advantage of an underutilized site to support the City’s energy and sustainability goals.”

"Solar Liberty is proud to take part in the development and now construction of the City of Rochester's 2.6 MW solar system,” said Nathan Rizzo, vice president Solar Liberty. “The City's foresight in utilizing a repurposed landfill for a solar installation is innovative and highlights the City of Rochester's environmental stewardship. This 'brownfield-turned-brightfield' will provide clean sustainable electricity to the City for many years to come."

The City will buy the electricity from AES at a rate that will save an estimated $80,000 a year. The electricity will be used to help power City Hall and Environmental Services Operations Center on Mt. Read Boulevard.

The Solar Field is being built on a 7-acre site on the old Emerson Street Landfill. This portion of the landfill has been vacant since 1972, and was recently removed from New York State’s list of inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. This makes the project an excellent example of the successful reuse of a brownfield site for the production of renewable energy.

The pad for the solar field was constructed by the City, re-using iron slag excavated during construction of the Port of Rochester Marina, saving the City $4 million in landfill disposal costs.

In the first year alone, the Solar Field is expected to displace the emission of approximately 2,300 tons of carbon dioxide – equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from close to 500 passenger vehicles driven for one year or the burning of 12 rail cars of coal.

The Solar Field will move the City closer to the goals laid out in its Climate Action Plan and Energy Plan, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2040.


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