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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.

— Last July, the Town Board passed a resolution to set up an agreement with Monolith, which previously had the town set to receive only 20 percent of the energy generated. Also, the solar panel initiative was approved alongside the Town Board adopting the Climate Smart Communities Pledge. The focus of the pledge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stabilize the climate.

Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said NYSERDA evaluates companies like Monolith, so there is “no risk” to the town. McGraw said the town has developed a good relationship with NYSERDA over the last few years.

“This is a town of a lot of engineers … so we really in a large part want to be cutting edge in what we are doing,” McGraw said. “This builds on what we are doing … looking at how much energy we are actually using.”

The new monitor detailing solar panel data is also below another monitor installed last October that displays a revolving array of graphs and data on electricity usage at Town Hall. The system behind the monitor is part of a pilot program administered and funded by the state.

McGraw said it is important to have the monitors in Town Hall, so people can view them and learn about alternative energy.

“I want to make this stuff interesting to people,” she said. “This is what makes it interesting to people.”

Landry said as residents come into Town Hall to file their taxes, many are noticing the display.

“A lot of people are coming in and walking right by this and stopping and checking it out,” Landry said.

The town is also planning to install solar panels at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Highway Garage, which would be done through the same process. The panels weren’t placed on the roof of Town Hall because it wasn’t ideal for the panels. The two additional locations will probably get ground-mounted panels, too.

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