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Penfield solar paying off: Town saves nearly $40K on energy costs over summer

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(Penfield Department of Public Works Photo)

PENFIELD, N.Y. (WROC) — The Town of Penfield is reporting big savings, thanks to its investment in solar energy.

Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain reports that from May 1 to October 31, the town’s electric bill was about $84,000. That’s compared to 2017 and 2018 in the same time frame when the bills were approximately $124,600 and $123,200, respectively.

That nearly $40,000 in price reduction can be attributed to the town’s investment in solar energy, according to LaFountain. The town’s solar array at the Department of Public Works complex on Jackson Road has been fully operational since May.

(Penfield Department of Public Works Photo)

“The solar array consists of 3,648 solar modules driving 38 inverters,” LaFountain wrote on the town’s website. “The system is expected to generate 1.2 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually. From May to October it produced and delivered 767,837 kWh of electricity to the RG&E grid.”

The energy produced by this array is directly connected to RG&E’s utility grid and is expected to offset approximately nearly three-quarters of the Town of Penfield’s overall electrical usage at its main facilities (town hall, community center, DPW) — this production is the equivalent of powering 120 households for one year, according to Penfield officials.

And when it comes to winter weather, LaFountain maintains the solar will continue to prove effective.

“Solar arrays reliably produce energy on cloudy days — and the panels perform most efficiently in cold weather — so we are confident the array will continue to deliver electricity to RG&E’s grid throughout the winter,” LaFountain wrote. 

And to top it all off, according to Penfield officials, the project didn’t cost the town any money to install the solar array. This from an April 2019 press release before the array was fully operationalL:

“Like many municipal solar installations, the solar array is being financed through a solar power purchase agreement (PPA)—an agreement in which a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost to taxpayers.

The system is entirely designed, engineered, installed, and funded by developer. The developer sells the power generated to the host customer at a fixed rate that is lower than the local utility’s retail rate. The customer and developer both benefit from the PPA. The customer benefits short- and long-term from lower, predictable electricity compared to electricity purchase directly from the grid.

The developer benefits from income received from the sale of electricity and any tax credits or incentives generated from the system. PPAs typically range from 10 to 25 years. Throughout the contract period, the developer is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system. At the end of the PPA contract, the customer may opt to extend the PPA, buy the system from the developer and receive the direct benefit of the low-cost electricity, or have the developer remove the system.

In this case, the customer is the Town of Penfield, the site is the DPW complex at 1607 Jackson Road, the designer is Larsen Engineering, and the developer/provider is Tesla.”

To learn more about the Penfield solar array, visit this website.

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