Daniel Hershberg presents a project to build solar panel car ports at the Ayco headquarters to the Planning Board on Tuesday, Nov. 29 Jim Franco/Spotlight News
COLONIE — The Planning Board gave final approval to the Galesi Group to install carports with some 3,000 solar panels on top at the new 150,000-square-foot Ayco headquarters off Route 9.
The building, which is nearing completion, has parking for some 830 vehicles. The car ports would be split into eight individual “sub-array” with four on the southwest portion and another four on the eastern portion. All told, the plan calls for the installation of 3,010, 435-watt panels. The DC electricity will be converted by 10, 60-kilowatt string inverters installed along the canopies.
Daniel Hershberg, who presented the project on behalf of DG Northeast 1, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida based energy company specializing in solar and wind renewable energies and also does transmission and natural gas pipelines, said the project received the necessary approvals short of the final approval from the Planning Board.
In July, the Zoning Board of Appeals gave the OK to Starlite Associates, the company that technically owns the new Ayco headquarters, to build ancillary structures in the front yard of the building. Earlier, the town gave the OK to park on the front yard, but the additional panels are needed to generate enough electricity to make the project economically feasible.
The plan is to have all the entire buildings electrical needs powered by 76,262-square-foot of solar panels. That would not be achieved without some 30,000-square-foot of panels on the front yard.
Town departments also signed off, Hershberg said, with a change of a conduit along a Latham Water District easement and a guaranteed minimum of 14-foot clearance under the canopies to satisfy concerns of fire officials.
“It’s a unique project. It’s not very often we see commercial developments promoting this level of environmental sustainability,” said the Town’s Designated Engineer Joe Grasso. “We appreciate their efforts.”
He said there are commercial buildings with solar panels installed on the roof, but in this case it was not feasible since there are mechanical components, like heating, ventilation and air conditioning on the roof of the new Ayco headquarters.
The carport canopies are being used more and more by large commercial developments across the country to not only help offset energy costs but, as an added bonus, provide a layer of protection from the elements, namely rain and snow, for those parking beneath.
In July, 2018, the Planning Board gave Galesi the final OK to build the new Ayco headquarters at the former site of the Starlite theater, which was demolished in 1998. A $5 million road, called Coliseum Drive, now bifurcates the site between Route 9 and Route 9R to alleviate traffic congestion at the existing intersection of the two roads and the Northway ramp.
A day before the project was approved by the Planning Board, the town’s Industrial Development Agency approved a $12 million incentive package with the cornerstone being a 10-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes deal. In year one, the total taxes paid to the town, county and North Colonie School District would be $106,509, which would progressively grow until maxing out at $1 million in year 10.
The company would pay more than $6.5 million over the 10-year period including $4.8 million to the North Colonie School District, just more than $1 million to the county and $685,719 to the town. Without the project or the PILOT, the site as is would generate a total of $304,230, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the IDA.
Ayco is under the umbrella of Goldman Sachs, an iconic financial services company that’s been around since 1869. Ayco says the new headquarters in Colonie will allow it to retain 626 employees and allow it to hire 160 new people by 2021 in high-paying, financial sector jobs with another 476 indirect jobs – or jobs created with the ongoing existence of Ayco at the site.