Solar energy a possibility in Saratoga County

What's big, bright and never turns off? The answer, of course, is the sun, and for some areas in Saratoga County our nuclear neighbor may also be the future answer to high energy prices.

Recent weeks have seen the development of proposals for the placement of photovoltaic panels (which turn sunlight into electricity) in the Town of Clifton Park and at a county-owned building in Ballston Spa that is home to the Board of Elections and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

In actuality, the county's building at 50 West High St. already has a solar installation that never quite came to fruition. In the late 1970s, the county installed solar panels on the roof with grant money left over from the building's construction. It was to use sunlight to heat water, in turn heating the building.

The county was very forward thinking in building a solar installation back in the late 70s, said Saratoga Springs Supervisor and county Green Committee Chairman Matthew Veitch. "Unfortunately there were a lot of problems from the start."

The company went out of business after starting the work, and the project languished for years. But now the county is examining the possibility of placing a photovoltaic array on the roof.

Veitch said that the Green Committee is putting together a year-end report that will identify a number of energy efficient and ecologically sustaining practices the county can engage in. One of those suggestions might be examining rooftops at other county offices for solar panel placement.

A survey of 50 West High St. by The Solar Energy Consortium"a not-for-profit that works to expand solar energy usage across the state"is being compiled, but they have already advised the county Building and Grounds Committee of the possibilities. Even though the field has changed since the failed project, there is a sense at the county that any initiative must be properly vetted.

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