The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York jointly announced on April 18 that two newly completed solar installations – atop the bank’s warehouse facilities in Albany in upstate New York, and in the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson, about 50 miles north of New York City – will are expected to yield savings of $520,000 over a 25-year power purchase agreement.
The installations have also been a catalyst for increasing awareness of opportunities available to the Food Bank to lower its utility bills through energy efficiency enhancements.
The installations at the two facilities comprise a total of 2,673 solar panels and expected to combine for about 973,000 kWh of annual generation, to meet approximately 60 percent of the facilities’ electricity needs. That amount of solar power would be equal to meeting the electricity requirements of 135 average-sized homes.
A significant portion of the Food Bank’s utility bills can be attributed to the energy-intensive refrigeration that its warehouse facilities rely upon for the large donations of food that it collects for the disadvantaged. The solar installations will lessen those costs by replacing higher-priced electricity from the power grid– and are leading to even greater savings, by allowing the Food Bank warehouses to stagger the recharging schedule for their battery-powered forklifts. In the past, the warehouses did all the recharging of this equipment at one time, resulting in higher demand charges on their electric bills.
“The solar projects are providing the Regional Food Bank with more options in its warehouse operations,” said Bill Jordan, CEO of Jordan Energy & Food Enterprises, a Troy, New York-based energy consulting and development company, which worked closely with the Food Bank in identifying financing and construction partners while customizing analytical software for the warehouses’ harnessing of on-site solar power. “We’ve worked with the Food Bank for over six years to install solar at the right time, and the launch of the NY-Sun program led us to insist this was the right time.”
Expanding solar power in New York State is a key pillar in the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) – aimed at building a next-generation energy system in the state that is clean, resilient, and affordable.
The state’s Clean Energy Standard calls for 50 percent of the electricity in New York to come from renewable resources by 2030. Distributed generation facilities like those at the Regional Food Bank, involving electricity production close to end users of power, will be an essential element to success in meeting the State’s goals, NYSERDA said, including reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, from 1990 levels.
“Congratulations to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York for becoming another example of the positive benefits that solar energy can reap for businesses under Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative” said NYSERDA CEO John Rhodes, in a formal statement.”These projects will help the state combat greenhouse gases while reducing the Food Bank’s energy bills, thereby freeing up additional funds for the essential services this organization offers to the public.”
“We are always looking for ways to reduce our operating expenses so we can maximize the impact of our core mission—to alleviate hunger and prevent food waste,” said Food Bank Executive Director Mark Quandt. “As we strive to be good stewards of the resources our community so generously provides, switching to clean solar power is closely aligned with our principles.”
Dynamic Energy, a solar developer with offices in Saratoga Springs, New York, designed and built the two solar projects – completing them in less than six months.
At the end of the 25-year PPA, the ownership of the solar installations will be transferred to the Regional Food Bank, at which point the electricity from the solar panels will be free, for further cost savings on the Food Bank’s overall electricity bills.