Solar energy initiative aired
Jan 29, 2010 - McClatchy-Tribune
Regional News - Aaron Besecker The Buffalo News, N.Y.
All kinds of
public buildings under the sun, from schools to libraries to city halls, will
be targeted as installation sites under a new state initiative to develop solar
The New York Power Authority has issued a request for proposals with
a goal of producing 100 megawatts of new generating capability across the state
over the next four years, officials said Thursday.
The initiative will put
the state "in the forefront as one of the leaders in photovoltaics and solar
technology," authority President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel
said during a news conference at Niagara Falls High School.
the prospects of job creation from the initiative, which initially was unveiled
by the authority in Syracuse on Wednesday.
"This will create thousands
of jobs," Kessel said Thursday, adding that the project will be "the
largest solar initiative in the history of the State of New York."
types of jobs created are expected to be both manufacturing and installation,
The authority will host a meeting Feb. 9 at its White Plains
headquarters for parties interested in bidding. Bids are due April 22, and the
authority plans to award contracts by Sept. 29.
Some construction could
begin by the end of the year, Kessel said.
When asked about how much the
initiative is expected to cost, Kessel declined to give an estimate but acknowledged
it would exceed the range of tens of millions of dollars. He also said it would
not increase the rates the authority charges for power.
Under the request
for proposals, the state will be divided into five regions for the purposes of
awarding projects: Western, Central, Northern, Southeastern and New York City.
will be accepted in four categories: government, schools, parking lot canopies
and "community solar." The last category would be solar-generating equipment
installed on a large scale in empty fields or vacant lands for municipal utilities
and rural cooperatives.
The electricity that's produced on rooftops of public
buildings would be used to power the buildings themselves, under the authority's
initiative. The deal also would involve 20-year power purchasing deals between
the authority and the companies, which would own the equipment.
Smith, Western New York program director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment,
called the authority's announcement "an important step" toward building
a clean energy future for the area.
The authority looks to talk with Globe
Specialty Metals, the company whose Niagara Falls operation, Globe Metallurgical,
currently makes metallurgical-grade silicon. It already has plans to expand to
produce purified silicon, which is used for solar cells.
"We will be
meeting further with Globe Metals to see if they can expand their operations further,"
Last year, the Power Authority and the University at Buffalo
announced plans to install 5,000 ground-mounted solar panels on UB's North Campus
State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, who is chairman of
the State Senate's Energy Committee, during the news conference called for the
authority to give Niagara County some preference when installation projects are
Maziarz, who called the authority's request for proposals "a
good first step," pointed to the authority's Niagara Power Project in Niagara
County, which accounts for the vast majority of the authority's net profits of
$298.5 million in 2008.
The authority took in $205 million in profits that
year from operations at the Niagara power plant, which has the capacity to produce
more than 2,200 megawatts of electricity.
"We are the New York State
Power Authority, in reality," Maziarz said, noting he hopes the authority
will include a scoring mechanism in its evaluation of projects that benefits Niagara
The state currently produces about 20 megawatts of solar
energy. The planned 100 solar megawatts would be enough to power about 15,000
homes, according to the authority.
Kessel promised 20 percent to 25 percent
of projects would be built in Western New York.
"Many of these projects
will be right here in this county," Kessel said, "and that's important."
view the request for proposals, visit www.nypa.gov/solar/100mw.