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Chester to expand solar power installation

Town of Chester landfill and recycling attendant Lou Lashomb walks past an array of solar panels, one of two installations 150 feet long, that will soon power the town transfer station, town garage complex, and  Chester recycling center. The town of Chester decided this week to double the number of arrays and the electrical output of their solar installations to both save money and become more earth-friendly. The town is now converting to solar power to provide electricity for all their facilities, including the Chester-Horicon Health Center, the town highway garage, the Chester Municipal Center, and the Dynamite Hill complex. Area energy officials say Chester is leading the way in employing such alternative energy sources.

Town of Chester landfill and recycling attendant Lou Lashomb walks past an array of solar panels, one of two installations 150 feet long, that will soon power the town transfer station, town garage complex, and Chester recycling center. The town of Chester decided this week to double the number of arrays and the electrical output of their solar installations to both save money and become more earth-friendly. The town is now converting to solar power to provide electricity for all their facilities, including the Chester-Horicon Health Center, the town highway garage, the Chester Municipal Center, and the Dynamite Hill complex. Area energy officials say Chester is leading the way in employing such alternative energy sources. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Now enjoying a reputation for environmental awareness, the Town of Chester is now set to pursue a deeper shade of green.

With an aim of multiplying utility savings and minimizing its carbon footprint, the town of Chester will soon be nearly doubling its solar power capacity.

Tuesday June 12, the town board voted unanimously to install twice as many solar panels as now installed at three of its four municipal facilities in town.

Solar arrays at the town Municipal Center, Dynamite Hill Recreation area and the Chester-Horicon Health Center will each be doubled to produce 51.8 kilowatts instead of 25 kilowatts, and the array servicing the town highway garage, transfer station and recycling center complex will be boosted from 25 kilowatts to 29.1 kilowatts, Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe told the town board before their vote.

“The more energy we produce by solar, the lower our utility bills will be — while we help the environment,” he said.

According to figures supplied by the town’s solar engineering consultants, the extra solar panels could save town taxpayers an extra $5,000 or more per year in utility costs while generating electricity that surpasses the town facilities’ needs and will power other homes and businesses.

The existing solar arrays were installed and are maintained under an agreement with Edge Design & Consulting of Plattsburgh — and the new ones approved June 12 will follow he terms of the contract.

The equipment, representing tens of thousands of dollars, will not cost the local taxpayers anything — in fact, the town is guaranteed savings on its electricity bills.

While Edge Design is paying for the equipment and installation, the town is guaranteed savings of 10 to 25 percent on the electricity usage for the life of the contract, or 10 years. Revenue from excess energy produced and distributed over the power grid is divided between the Edge outfit and the town of Chester.

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