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New York State Bridge Authority breaks ground on solar panel array at Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge

August 23, 2018 12:02 pm

HIGHLAND — The New York State Bridge Authority announced the start of construction on a 486 KW solar panel array located by the west end of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. This solar array will generate approximately 26 percent of the electricity currently used by the Bridge Authority. The total project cost is $117,000 and the investment will be paid off in 13 years by the energy savings realized during that time frame.

This project is part of Governor M. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard which requires 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, by 2030. The Clean Energy Standard was established to help fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable energy supply.

“This solar project will help New York State move one step closer towards achieving Governor Cuomo’s ‘50 by 30’ goal,” New York State Bridge Authority Chairman Richard A. Gerentine said. “This is an impressive agenda that’s needed as the problems caused by climate change are more aggressive than anyone imagined. New York witnessed firsthand the devastation brought about by climate change through Hurricanes Irene, Lee and Sandy. No longer is New York State solely relying on the energy sources of the past, but rather implementing innovative ideas to ensure a clean energy future for our children’s children.”

Construction of the solar array will be completed by the end of 2018 and when finished will dramatically decrease commercially sourced electricity used by the Bridge Authority. This solar project comes on the heels of the Bridge Authority recently converting all of the street lights and lightbulbs used on the Authority’s bridges and facilities from traditional high-energy consuming street lights to light-emitting diode (LED) street lights. The electricity utilized to power these street lights constitutes a large portion of the Bridge Authority’s total electric consumption and the conversion to LED street lights decreased the Authority’s electricity use by 22%. When combined with the electricity that will be produced when the solar array is turned on later this year, this will equate to a 48% reduction in traditional commercially sourced electricity used by the Bridge Authority.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York State is leading the nation by pursuing innovative renewable energy sources,” said Bridge Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero. “This is the kind of leadership necessary to fight the harmful effects of climate change by finding creative ways to lower our dependence on electricity generated from fossil fuels. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, New York State is providing a successful model that other states can follow to make a difference for generations to come.”

This project is being conducted as a public-private partnership between the New York State Bridge Authority, Active Solar Development, LLC., and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). This project is made possible through the state’s NY-Sun Grant program, which is part of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). The NY-Sun Grant allowed the New York State Bridge Authority to lock in a fixed electricity price of 10¢ per-kilowatt hour for 20 years.

NY-Sun is Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Since 2011, solar in New York State has increased more than 1,000 percent and leveraged nearly $2.8 billion in private investments. There are more than 12,000 people engaged in solar jobs across New York.

As part of the public-private partnership, the New York State Bridge Authority has been working with Active Solar Development, LLC. to develop the project; install, operate and maintain the solar panels; and maintain the interconnection to the surrounding power grid operated by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation. The New York State Bridge Authority received consulting services from the clean power consulting company EarthKind Energy regarding utility cost analysis, solar project sizing, bid documentation preparation, contract negotiation and project management.