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South Colonie Central School District News

solar panels at the high school
solar panels on bus garage

Solar panels will power the Colonie Central High School athletic fields (top) and the district bus garage (bottom).

Solar Energy Grant Installation Moves Forward in District

South Colonie is moving toward having the largest operating solar energy system of any public school district in New York State. While the process has involved significant planning and anticipated adjustments over the last year, progress has been made installing solar panels at the district bus garage and high school athletic fields.

Click here to view original grant story

The project is being funded through a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). It will save approximately $75,000 per year in utility expenses in the first full year of implementation, and an estimated $1.5 to $1.75 million over the next 20 years. NYSERDA has made solar grants available through its NY Sun Competitive Photovaltaic (PV) Program to encourage alternative energy uses by corporate and municipal entities.

"While this initiative has taken some time, I believe it's important for people to remember the scale of the project which involves planning for and installation of approximately 6,000 solar panels to reduce utility expenses at 11 locations," said Board of Education President David Kiehle. "This includes all eight schools, the bus garage, District Office, and athletic fields.

click here to view a short video view of the bus garage solar panels

While some panels will be located on school property, many will operate from a distance or a “solar field” through a process called remote net metering. Remote net metering maximizes power production using precise solar panel sun angles. This plan also also for possible expansion in future years.

From a community awareness and instructional standpoint, all schools will have real time Internet-based monitors installed in the main building entrances detailing actual district-wide solar production. Solar learning centers will be set up in some schools for students and teachers to utilize during lesson plans.

The process from grant application to installation will span nearly two years, but the effort should pay off for district residents for decades to come with the district acquiring power for roughly half the cost of purchasing power “off the grid.”