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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.

— The near-doubling of output was requested by Edge Consulting officials within the last several weeks.

The request was prompted by New York State Energy Research & Development Authority doubling its maximum energy output restriction for installations, eligible for grants and credits, at non-profit entities.

That maximum capacity was doubled from 25 kilowatts to 51.8, the output Chester is now pursuing at three of their four solar installations.

The 25 kilowatt solar arrays at the Chester Municipal Center, Chester-Horicon Health Center, and Dynamite Dynamite Hill have been installed, but they are not yet online — they are to be hooked up soon, on a weekend day when power can be conveniently interrupted, Monroe said.

The 25 kilowatt solar array servicing the town garage, transfer station and recycling center complex is the only one now online.

Making the final connection of the arrays at the Chester-horicon Health Center may be delayed, however, because two of the large solar panels were recently smashed by vandals, Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe told the Chester Board members. He said the destruction was reported June 2 and police were investigating the incident.

Under the existing agreement with Edge Consulting, the firm’s investors will be shouldering the cost of replacing the destroyed equipment.

Monroe said the town’s plans to increase the number of solar panels will require Adirondack Park Agency approval. He predicted, however, that the agency will declare the issue “non-jurisdictional” — thus granting approval — as they did early this year on the original installation.

The town of Chester is the first municipality in the Adirondacks to convert to solar power.

With the additional installation, the town of Chester’s solar arrays should be producing nearly 250,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, according to figures provided by Edge Design.

In a related decision reached June 12, the town will be buying 16 new streetlamps featuring light-emitting diodes, which provide bright light with one-third the energy usage of traditional sodium-vapor lamps — 50 watts instead of 150 watts.

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