NYSERDA: Crews begin work on Ithaca College solar project

Published in Central New York Business Journal

NYSERDA: Crews begin work on Ithaca College solar project

Construction work continues on a 2.9 megawatt (MW) solar-electric project for Ithaca College (IC) at a site about 40 miles from campus.

The project will provide enough electricity to meet about 10 percent of the school’s energy needs, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said in a news release issued Monday.

The project will produce “clean, renewable and sustainable” energy for the college, lower its energy costs, and reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, NYSERDA contends.

Construction started in December, and IC expects crews to finish the project by summer, according to a web page entitled “Ithaca College Solar Project Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)” on the college’s website.

The Ithaca College project will feature a solar array of more than 9,000 panels on 15 acres of land in the town of Seneca in Ontario County, about 40 miles from IC.

The school is using the remote net metering program, which allows organizations to install solar projects “at an off-site location and receive credits for the energy fed onto the grid,” according to the IC FAQ web page.

The solar installation will generate an estimated 3.55 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operation, the equivalent of powering 500 average-sized homes in New York.

The solar panels will offset 888 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents annually, which is “comparable to taking 187cars off the road,” NYSERDA said.

Financing the project

Ithaca College is financing the project through a power-purchase agreement, which covers all upfront costs and maintenance, according to the IC FAQ web page.

Under the agreement, the school buys the clean energy produced from the system owner at a set price over the 25-year term of the agreement through virtual net metering.

New York City–based Greenwood Energy will provide project financing and will then own and operate the solar array once crews complete the project, the college says.

In addition, NYSERDA provided Ithaca College a grant of $1.6 million awarded to Seattle, Washington–based OneEnergy Renewables, which co-developed the project with San Diego, California–based Borrego Solar Systems, Inc.

The grant covers about “roughly” 25 percent of the total cost to develop and build the project, according to the IC FAQ page.

The grant is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion NY-Sun initiative, a spokesman for Ithaca College said in an email response to a BJNN inquiry.

The NY-Sun initiative is designed to build a self-sustaining solar industry in New York and help to achieve strategic energy goals under REV and the Clean Energy Standard.

It requires 50 percent of electricity generated in New York come from renewable sources by 2030, according to NYSERDA.

REV is short for Reforming the Energy Vision, which the NYSERDA news release describes as Gov. Cuomo’s “strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.”