County Executive McCoy and Partners Break Ground on Albany County’s First Solar Array
Project Includes Educational Partnership with Capital Region BOCES
Friday, September 1, 2023
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy, the New York Power Authority (NYPA), Colonie Town Supervisor Peter Crummey, Albany County Legislators and other project partners broke ground today on the site of Albany County’s first major solar photovoltaic (PV) ground-mount array on five acres of county property located at 897 Watervliet Shaker Road in the Town of Colonie. A 2.1 megawatt solar farm was awarded to Siemens, the project developer which was selected through a competitive bid process. The solar project will be owned and operated by Calibrant Energy, a joint venture between Siemens and the financial services company Macquarie Group.
The county will purchase the nearly 2.6 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable electricity generated by the farm each year, and be reimbursed for the power generated on county property, which is projected to benefit county tax payers in the long-term. The project has received the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has a radar tower on the site. Construction is expected to be complete in 2024.
“As we break ground on our first major solar project, I’m proud that Albany County continues on its path to becoming the greenest county in New York State. Once complete, this solar farm will be able to replace the equivalent carbon emissions of 252 homes and through this partnership with NYPA, we will ultimately save tax dollars on electricity costs,” said Albany County Executive McCoy.
“Our feasibility study analyzed a number of county properties that would be suitable for this endeavor. However, we determined that this is the perfect location for a solar farm because there are virtually no neighbors, and the array is a compatible use with the radar tower,” he continued.
“The Town of Colonie is pleased to collaborate with Albany County in advancing the solar project at 897 Watervliet-Shaker Road. This clean energy innovation will help the Town achieve its ongoing goal promoting a diverse energy policy. We will continue to embrace a smart and balanced approach in keeping with our Climate Smart Community,” said Colonie Town Supervisor Peter G. Crummey.
“The New York Power Authority is pleased to partner with Albany County, which shares New York State’s dedication to developing more renewable energy resources and has stepped forward as a role model for local governments wanting to reduce their carbon footprints,” said Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “The acceleration of solar is key to our clean energy future and it’s going to take every community doing their part to fulfill our State’s commitment to transition to zero-emissions resources and achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.”
New York State boasts some of the most ambitious clean energy targets in the nation, specified in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), passed in 2019, which calls for 70 percent of the State’s electricity to be sourced from renewable energy by 2030.
The Power Authority’s Distributed Energy Resources Advisory Services team, serving as Albany County’s advisor, helped the County assess potential project sites and developed, issued and evaluated the competitive bidding process. The team will continue to provide guidance and oversight throughout the development of the project.
Work will begin with site preparation, including the removal of the invasive black locust trees on the site. There will be a one-to-one tree replacement, and native pollinators will be planted onsite to enhance the green intent of the project.
“Calibrant is excited to begin construction on this solar project that will deliver tangible economic and environmental benefits to the Albany County community,” said Thomas Biddinger, Director of Partnerships at Calibrant Energy, the long term financing partner and operator for the project. “Our Energy-as-a-Service model delivers flexible financing to help partners like Albany County achieve their sustainability goals while delivering long-term budget certainty for local officials and taxpayers alike.”
One of the additional benefits of siting the solar array on Watervliet Shaker Road is the development of an educational program for students at the Capital Region BOCES and local schools. Through this partnership, students will be able to participate in project construction and maintenance of the solar array and monitor the site in real time.
“This project will provide students at Capital Region BOCES first-hand experience in the construction, installation and maintenance process for this technology, in turn gaining valuable work-based experience in the field,” said Joe Dragone, Senior Executive Officer, Capital Region BOCES. “Further integrating the use of real time data and energy systems from this project will support the knowledge and technical training that our students receive in the classroom.”
“Albany County’s commitment to combating the climate and energy crisis requires infrastructure changes, starting with how we obtain our sources of energy. The Legislature has a history of spearheading green initiatives and this allows us to take steps towards a future that protects our planet by requiring a zero-emission, solar-powered energy framework. We thank all of our partners at the County, including our Legislators who have worked to promote solar energy, for their hard work to successfully begin installation of the first local large-scale solar power farm in Albany County,” said Albany County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce.
“Today marks the culmination of years of efforts by the County Executive and the Albany County Legislature to install the first municipal large-scale solar power project in Albany County. As a strong supporter of conservation efforts throughout the County, I believe that this solar farm is the first of many steps we can take towards a more sustainable future. This project also has double the impact, as the Legislature passed a resolution last year requiring that trees cleared from County properties be replaced tree-for-tree on another County property or, where not possible, that monies equaling twice the replacement value of the trees be set aside for further conservation efforts in the County. The existing invasive trees that will be cleared for this project will be replaced by non-invasive trees native to the Capital Region or double their value – maximizing the conservation impact of this project. I thank the County Executive and my colleagues in the Albany County Legislature for working together to make the County more sustainable,” said Albany County Legislature Majority Leader Dennis Feeney.
“I am pleased we are pursuing this sensible use of County property,” said Albany County Legislature Minority Leader Frank Mauriello. “Using airport-adjacent land is a great example of smart solar siting. This project should benefit the environment, the Town of Colonie, and Albany County ratepayers.”
“Shaker Heritage Society is grateful for the provision of funding for a new roof for the 1848 Shaker Meeting House, and we are happy to support initiatives to enhance the environmental and economic sustainability of our home. Renowned around the country for their honesty and the quality of their craftsmanship, the Shakers also embraced agricultural innovation and sustainable practices. This solar project carries forward these ideals by converting former Shaker farmland into a source of renewable energy for public benefit. Where farmers once harvested crops, technicians will now harvest sunlight,” said Johanna Batman, Executive Director of the Shaker Heritage Society.
A State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) for this solar project was conducted last year and a number of public hearings followed last spring.
About the New York Power Authority
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 80 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. NYPA finances its operations with revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity and by the sale of bonds.
About Calibrant Energy
Calibrant Energy is a total energy partner that simplifies the transition toward energy decarbonization and decentralization. Calibrant Energy creates smart energy solutions for companies and institutions by integrating the latest energy technologies with adaptive financing. Calibrant Energy brings together global innovators in energy, Siemens Smart Infrastructure (SI), Siemens Financial Services (SFS) and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG), to deliver distributed energy solutions that help achieve commercial, sustainability and strategic goals. Siemens Financial Services provides debt financing for Calibrant projects. Calibrant Energy’s mission is to provide reliable, high-quality, and transformational energy solutions with end-to-end services. For more information, visit www.calibrantenergy.com.