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Nisky catches some rays

Town Hall powered by newly installed solar panels

Solar panels outside of Niskayuna Town Hall on Friday, Feb. 3, are providing electricity to the building. Additional panels are also planned for the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and Highway Garage.

Solar panels outside of Niskayuna Town Hall on Friday, Feb. 3, are providing electricity to the building. Additional panels are also planned for the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and Highway Garage. Photo by John Purcell.

— Bright, sunny days mean more than just good weather for Niskayuna — now its energy costs are reduced, too.

Niskayuna Town Hall started receiving electricity through its recently installed solar panels, which are on posts along the far end of its parking lot. Monolith Solar Associates set up the panels at no cost to the town, with the project partially funded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The town is receiving 30 percent of the electricity produced from the panels, but the remaining 70 percent is sold back into the grid by Monolith.

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Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry and Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw stand next to the new monitor installed at Town Hall displaying energy data from recently installed solar panels.

“This is another major project of the Town of Niskayuna,” Supervisor Joe Landry said.

Monolith performed all the work, said Landry, from developing plans to the installation. Wiring was also installed by Monolith inside Town Hall.

“Everything was done by them at no cost to the town,” Landry said. “They get the majority of the share because they paid for everything.”

The savings aren’t just visible in the accounting books though, because through the project Monolith installed a monitor in Town Hall displaying information on energy usage. The monitor cycles through a set of screens, with one showing historical data on how much power is generated by the panels and another screen providing a current snapshot of what percentage of the building’s power usage is coming from the panels.

On of the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 3, the town had prevented 560 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, according to the display.

“There may be times when we are running totally solar, maybe on the weekends or at night, when the offices are closed down,” Landry said.

Since the solar panel is part of a study of how much energy savings could be realized, Landry said town officials don’t know how much electricity costs will be offset. After the summer, the town should have good base numbers to estimate savings.

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