New Saratoga County solar farm is among largest of its kind upstate

Consumers can buy credits to feed into the power grid with solar panels

One of the largest community solar projects in upstate New York was officially opened on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in Halfmoon, N.Y. The ForeFront Power community solar farm is supported through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's $1 billion NY-Sun initiative and will assist the State in meeting the governor's Green New Deal goal to obtain 70 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030. (Will Waldron/Times Union)


MECHANICVILLE – More than 1,000 customers have signed up for a new community solar project that state officials and energy developers say is one of the largest of its kind in upstate New York.


The Mechanicville Community Solar Project feeds power to the area’s power grid, with subscribers getting discounts on their utility bills based on how much the solar farm adds to the regional grid each month.


The project, which is fully subscribed, was developed by Fore-Front Power and financed with help from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is charged with helping foster newer, greener energy sources.


Development of the project was helped by $2.3 million from NYSERDA through the NY-Sun initiative.


Officials from NYSERDA, the company and others attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the solar farm on Monday.

NYSERDA President Alicia Barton said this brings to 2 gigawatts the amount of solar capacity in the state.


“As we wrap up the end of the decade, today’s two gigawatt milestone is the State’s clean energy gift to all New Yorkers as we march towards Governor Cuomo’s commitment to meet 70 percent of our statewide electricity needs with renewable energy by 2030,” Barton said.


She was referring to the recently signed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act which calls for sharp reductions in the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from all industries over the next few years.


According to NYSERDA, distributed solar projects since 2011 have grown 1,800 percent and have decreased the cost of solar power almost 60 percent.


Under the community solar arrangement, the solar farm does not hook directly into people’s homes. Instead, the energy generated from the solar farm goes into the local power grid. Subscribers can pay up front or as they go. But they get credits in the form of lower electric bills from the main utility company in the area, so they can come out ahead in the end.


One of the advantages is that it allows homeowners to support solar power, even if their home is not ideally set up or situated for mounting solar panels.


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