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Solar panel project moves forward

Clifton Park is getting greener.

The town accepted a bid by Solar Liberty, a company out of Buffalo, to install solar panels on the town's highway garage, at the Feb. 22 Town Board meeting. The project was unveiled in late 2009 and is funded by NYSERDA.

We accepted the lowest bid and NYSERDA is in the process of reviewing the contracts. As soon as that step is complete, we'll go to the execution and construction phase, said Supervisor Phil Barrett. "We've been partnering with NYSERDA through this whole process and they've been very helpful, not only with financial assistance but expertise."

The solar panels were initially planned for installation on a maintenance bay behind the new highway garage, but after an evaluation, NYSERDA said the highway garage roof with a southern exposure would be a more effective position.

"We're going to save thousands of dollars in energy costs in a given year and the added benefit of using alternative energy is also something that we feel is important," said Barrett.

The solar panels were conceived in 2008 by the planning board when a push for more LEED certified building and development within the town was made. This photovoltaic project is Clifton Park's first effort to utilize a renewable energy option to provide electricity for mandated town activities. More specifically, the system will offset around 100 percent of the garage's electric usage and is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 44,000 lbs a year, which is equivalent to planting 100 trees.

The way the solar panels work is relatively simple. According to a project description provided by the town, solar electric (or photovoltaic) systems harness the sun's energy to produce electricity without emissions of fossil fuels. All components of the system comply with national, state and local utility regulations.

Now that the town has accepted a bid, there is an approximate timeframe for completion. According to the project description, design and planning will occur one to two weeks from the project acceptance date; equipment delivery will occur two to three weeks from project acceptance date; roof mount installation will start 14 to 21 days from equipment delivery to the site; electrical installation starts three to seven days from equipment delivery; system commissioning will happen 28 days after the beginning of installation; electrical inspection will happen seven days after commissioning.

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