Local solar panels will benefit Albany hospital

GREENPORT–Governor Andrew Cuomo announced recently that a state-supported solar project on 21-acres in Greenport will generate enough electricity to save each of two Albany healthcare facilities $50,000 a year.

The solar project, which will contain about 16,000 solar panels, is being built on vacant land at 90 Blue Hill Road, off of county Route 31. The solar-generated power from the site will be sold to National Grid and will offset about 10% percent of power consumed by St. Peter’s Hospital and the Center for Disability Services.

Albany-based renewable energy firm Sunstream Hudson, working under two limited liability companies, is developing and operating the project. The ground-mounted systems are expected to be operational this year. Each of the two systems is expected to cost approximately $4.6 million.

Minutes of the Town of Greenport Planning Board meetings from late 2014 and early 2015 say that Sunstream applied for a subdivision of land owned by Ken Crane and a small parcel belonging to A. Colarusso. The December 23, 2014 minutes say that Sunstream “will be purchasing and then leasing it back to the Center for Disabilities for 15 years. Tax credits finance the project.”

The project will help support the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard goal of meeting 50% of the state’s electricity needs with renewable resources by the year 2030 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a February 8, 2016 press release from NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“This project represents a major step forward in growing the clean energy economy both here in the Capital Region and across New York,” Governor Cuomo said in the release from the state. “By incentivizing the healthcare industry to utilize greener forms of energy like solar, we are not only helping shrink the carbon footprint of these organizations, but also helping reduce their bottom line so they operate more efficiently.”

Releases from two agencies, one from NYSERDA this month and the other from the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) issued last summer, differ slightly on the details of the project, with NYSERDA reporting that the systems will generate 5.3 megawatts. That’s equivalent to the power needed annually for 850 average-sized homes and would achieve a reduction in greenhouse gases of almost 2,000 tons annually.

Total investment in the project is approximately $12 million, including $2 million from NYSERDA through NY-Sun, a $1-billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar power and move the state closer to a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.

MMA Energy Capital of Baltimore and Buffalo-based M&T Bank are providing financing. The Columbia County Industrial Development Agency granted the project a 4% county sales tax exemption, which the CEDC release said would come to an estimated $280,000 in project savings. Also included was a one-time-only payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) in the amount of $20,000, which the release said will be paid toward local sales tax to the county. A project fee of $70,000 was to be paid to the county Industrial Development Agency.

“Board members felt it was important to not offset the grant money from NYSERDA for use in paying local sales taxes, which then allows the NYSERDA money to be invested in the project,” said Bruce Bohnsack, chair of the Industrial Development Agency board.

“This clean power project is terrific news and will contribute to New York State’s continued growth as a national leader in building the cleaner, greener, smarter energy sources and economy of tomorrow that we need today. I appreciate Governor Cuomo’s continued leadership in this critical area and for making this investment and project a reality,” said state Senator Kathy Marchione (R – 41st) in the release.

Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th), also quoted in the NYSERDA release, said, “Solar projects like this are a win-win-win.”

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