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Solar Project At NFTA Facility Reduces Energy Costs

October 11, 2010

TONAWANDA, NY – New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) Chairman Henry M. Sloma today celebrated the electrification of a solar project that will provide clean, renewable energy for its operations at its bus garage on Military Road and support will support the transit agency’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and protect the environment.

Kessel and Sloma were joined by various public officials and environmental leaders in making the announcement at the garage. Among those participating were Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Brian Smith of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The 250-kilowatt (kw) roof-mounted photovoltaic system installation will provide approximately 16 percent of the electricity required by the Frontier Garage—one of three bus garages that the NFTA operates in Buffalo. Some 1,100 solar panels now will provide on-site generation for the facility, and will help lower greenhouse gas emissions by 150 tons a year, the equivalent of planting 148,000 trees or taking 6.8 million vehicle miles off the roads.

The new PV installation is expected to generate approximately 289,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year for the bus garage, which would save the average commercial customer about $45,500 annually.

“This solar photovoltaic project – one of the largest to date installed by the Power Authority throughout the state - will help NFTA cuts its energy costs for the benefit of its customers and support the transit agency’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint,” Kessel said. “In addition, this project demonstrates NYPA’s commitment to supporting the growth of the clean energy economy in Western New York by capitalizing on the expertise and services of local companies and services, such Solar Liberty, our partners in this project and many others.”

Henry M. Sloma, NFTA acting chairman, said, “The rooftop solar photo panels will reduce the building’s electrical needs by 16 percent, saving Metro thousands of dollars annually and significantly reducing its dependency on non-renewable fuel sources thus contributing to a cleaner and greener environment.”

In addition to creating clean energy, this photovoltaic (PV) project helped support the Western New York economy with the use of local labor, services and products. The installation of the project involved at least three companies from the region: Solar Liberty of Williamsville, the main contractor which provided such services as project management and mechanical and electrical engineering; Allegro Power, a local woman-owned business that provided electrical services; and Capital Fence, an Amherst company. In addition, local welders were hired at the Buffalo production plant where the racking system for the solar panels was constructed and steel was procured from a local distributor.

“This project represents new growth for the Western New York and the local green economy,” said Adam Rizzo, president of Solar Liberty. “Solar energy is growing in New York. This is one of the largest operating solar installations in the State. The green economy is expanding in Buffalo, and our company has more than doubled in size since this time last year. Through the NFTA’s transportation services, clean renewable energy is touching more of us every day.”

Kessel noted that the plans for the solar installation stem from a $21 million renewable energy program that the Power Authority launched last year for increasing power supplies from solar and other advanced clean energy technologies, particularly in Western New York and other upstate areas.

Additionally, the Power Authority is partnering with the University at Buffalo (UB) for the installation of a one MW-scale solar PV project at its North campus, to be the largest solar installation at any college or university in New York State and one of the largest on any campus in the country. (One mw equals 1,000 kw.) The bulk of the work for the multimillion dollar UB project, which is expected to be in operation by next fall, will be carried out by Solar Liberty and its area work force.
NYPA also is advancing an initiative for the development and installation of 100 MW of new PV systems across the state, thereby increasing the state’s current installed solar capacity four-fold. This initiative is aimed at the development of distributed solar photovoltaic generating facilities that will be installed primarily at schools, public universities and colleges, state and local government facilities, municipal electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives.

The project will be both the catalyst for the state’s growing solar industry, and will support and
advance sustainability efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of state and local public facilities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45,000 tons per year.

Since the early 1990s, NYPA has installed more than 45 photovoltaic systems at public facilities in various parts of the state, including schools, wastewater treatment plants, museums and a medical center. The Power Authority is New York’s leading renewable energy supplier, with its large and small hydroelectric facilities accounting for approximately 15 percent of the state’s electricity.

The largest of these facilities is the Niagara Power Project, whose low-cost power is linked to tens of thousands of jobs on the Niagara Frontier. Recent allocations have been made to such clean energy companies as Precision Electro Minerals Co. (PEMCO), a Niagara Falls manufacturer of fused silica for solar-panel grade silicon; and ENrG, a Buffalo firm expanding its production of ceramic components for clean energy systems such as fuel cells.

Additional Statements on Planned Solar Installation at NFTA Garage

Congressman Chris Lee said: “This funding enables the NYPA and NFTA to further their efforts to increase energy-efficiency. The installation of these photovoltaic cells is an important long-term investment in our community, and I’d like to commend both public authorities for this important infrastructure improvement.”

Senator Antoine M. Thompson, Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, said: “Once again Western New York is making progressive strides for our environment. The installation of the 250-kilowatt solar array will not only save money, but projects like this one always help to create more job opportunities.”

Senator Catharine Young said: “The construction of this project is further evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free technology is here to stay in Western New York. I applaud the New York Power Authority and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for their hard work on this project and I look forward to more decisions that will help grow our green economy, promote energy independence and create more jobs for our region."

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said: “Use of solar power at NFTA’s Frontier garage, is great for New York State. Providing electricity by solar power is an excellent way to promote clean, renewable energy and demonstrates the State's commitment to a Green New York State. As a result, new jobs can be created to keep up with innovation. The Buffalo Niagara region is becoming a leader in the use of renewable energy technology that will encourage private and public sectors across the State to follow suit."

New York Power Authority (NYPA)
news release


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