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Guilderland looks to the sun for savings

Town Board weighs installing solar panels at up to 11 town sites

Jeff Conrad, executive vice president of Solomon Energy, talks about the possibility of installing solar panels at 11 locations in Guilderland during a presentation to the Town Board on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

Jeff Conrad, executive vice president of Solomon Energy, talks about the possibility of installing solar panels at 11 locations in Guilderland during a presentation to the Town Board on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Photo by John Purcell.

— Rising electricity costs are fueling the drive for Guilderland to install solar panels across a number of town facilities and take advantage of grant opportunities before funds dry up.

Solomon Energy Inc. on Tuesday, Jan. 7, presented the Guilderland Town Board with preliminary recommendations on installing a photovoltaic system across town-owned buildings, with the possibility of 11 potential sites generating up to 11.36 million kilowatt-hours. Most locations would be on building roofs, but the largest proposed site would be a ground mount at the town transfer station, generating almost 7.7 million kilowatt-hours. Solomon Energy projected a full build out could save the town nearly $1.5 million over 25 years, with annual savings starting at $21,600 and increasing to $111,315.

Town Supervisor Ken Runion said when local officials were recently looking into electricity and natural gas costs, there were discussions about looking into solar energy to offset expenses. The energy advising company is also looking at energy efficiency measures that could be taken in the town.

“We are going to be looking at some additional savings through changing out light fixtures and things like that. We have done some of that throughout the town, but we have more to do in that area,” Runion said. “Solar is the up and coming thing. … I think it is where we are moving in the future.”

Jeff Conrad, executive vice president of Solomon Energy, said during the past two months the company investigated solar options for the town. Annually, electricity costs for the town are around $500,000 paying at the rate of $0.118 per kilowatt-hour.

“We have taken a look at all the different locations around town to see what the potential for solar installation might be,” Conrad said. “There is definitely a major savings that can be shown by installing solar as well as it provides sustainability.”

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