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City Of Oswego Commits To Community Solar

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Several new electric car charging stations have been officially unveiled as the City of Oswego makes a major commitment to community solar and renewable energy.

Mayor Billy Barlow along with members of the Oswego Common Council, Omni Renewables, National Grid and Livingston Energy Group celebrated the opening of these stations at Breitbeck Park on April 5. This comes after Barlow’s 2022 State of the City Address in January where he originally announced the plan to install chargers that will work off the new pipeline of solar power being brought to the city.

The City of Oswego worked with OMNI Renewables, a company that helps clients connect to community solar projects, out of Syracuse and OYA Solar, a company currently working on developing a sort of pipeline of solar energy along upstate New York, to bring renewable energy to the city.

Through the agreement with OYA Solar, the City of Oswego has subscribed to two community solar projects, one of which is located in Pulaski with the other in Watertown. According to the president of OMNI Renewables, Michael Francis, with the city set to be connected fully to the pipeline at some point this spring, the city and its taxpayers will reap the benefits of guaranteed savings.

“We’re projecting that the City of Oswego will save about $47,000 per year as a result of their subscription to these two community solar farms,” Francis said.

OMNI Renewables was brought in by OYA Solar to find clients who would be interested in subscribing to these community solar projects. After working with several people and groups before Francis explains how beneficial their work can be.

“We’ve worked with a number of other municipalities where we’ve done this exact same thing and I think that it’s meaningful … to do this for a variety of reasons,” Francis said. “Number one, they are saving their operating costs because they are going to receive savings … so they are saving their taxpayer’s money. Number two, by participating in these projects they are helping New York State achieve its renewable energy goals.”

In 2019, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which detailed the state’s aggressive goals for renewable energy. Outlined in the CLCPA, state government wants 70% of the state’s electricity to be coming from renewable sources by the year 2030 and according to Francis, community solar is one of the big ways they can achieve this goal.

In the grand scheme of the project, the installation of the electric car charging stations was consequential. It was because of the pure magnitude of the dedication the city made to committing to community solar, OMNI Renewables found it within themselves to make a donation to the City of Oswego that they could use on the chargers which would now be powered by solar energy being piped into the city.

“Our job was to place the City of Oswego on a community solar farm and it was such a meaningful and large transaction for us that we were able to do something nice for the City of Oswego,” Francis said.

As for the chargers, two different types have been installed throughout the project. The majority of these will be “level two” chargers that are free to use and will allow for cars to be charged quickly. One station will be considered level 3 and was a joint project with the city and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and will be a first of its kind high speed charger in Oswego County. Depending on the model, cars will be able to be charged in 30 to 45 minutes.

This level 3 charger is located on West Second Street while other locations of level 2 chargers are Breitbeck Park, Crisafulli Ice Rink and Fort Ontario swimming pool. In a press release, Barlow said how important it is to set the city up for the future. With just over 300 electric vehicles registered in Oswego County Barlow said how happy he was with the partnerships the city made.

“Our mission is to strategically position Oswego for success in the long term, and what better way to do that than to embrace the rise in popularity of electric vehicles and to better accommodate our residents who may already have electric vehicles,” Barlow said. “I’m excited to finally get these charging station installed and in working order and appreciate the assistance from our partners at Livingston Energy Group, National Grid and OMNI Renewables to help make this project a reality.”

With the city set to be partially fueled by solar power, Barlow’s desire to set the City of Oswego up for future sustainability falls in line with the efforts of OMNI Renewables and OYA Solar. Not only will the project work towards the state’s goals of renewable energy reliance but will also save the city and its residents money in the process.

By Spencer Bates


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