Clifton Park is saving big on energy costs and looking for more ideas



CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. The town saved $49,000 in energy costs in 2017 in the first year of operation of a solar array on top of the town’s capped landfill. The success of the first year of operation has stirred ideas on how to save more.

The one-megawatt system with its more than 3,000 solar panels first began to generate energy on Dec. 2, 2016, according to a town announcement of the savings.

Energy collected in the solar powered system is delivered to the general electric grid through a partnership with National Grid. The town gets credits for the energy which, in turn, results in a reduction of its energy expenses.

The solar panels were installed on top of the landfill at no cost to the town through a competitive NYSERDA (New York State Energy Development Authority) grant program. The town partnered with the company GroSolar to install the system. The company, now operated by Onyx Renewable Partners, is responsible for operation and maintenance of the system.

“The Town Board is pleased with the savings the town has realized from the solar system in its first year of operation,” said Supervisor Phil Barrett. “We achieved our goal of converting a useless piece of property into a revenue generator for the town resulting in a decrease of our energy costs.”

In discussing the savings, Barrett said the town is taking additional steps to reduce its energy footprint and save taxpayers money. One way is to replace the lighting the town ice arena with LED technology and perhaps, in the lights on the Common.

The cost of making the changes will be covered by a $50,000 grant the town received recently. At the first Town Board meeting of the year the board put out a Request For Proposal for the ice arena’s lighting changes.

“That’s a new opportunity that was created through state legislation and we believe it’s an opportunity that we should pursue because there are significant energy savings to the town if we can consummate a successful agreement,” Barrett said. “The first part of that is the RFP process that we are in now.”

Barrett said the grant must be used for something that reduces carbon emissions or energy use so changing the current lighting in the ice rink with all its lights will save the town a significant amount of money in the future.

“We believe the best investment of those funds is to reduce energy usage and save taxpayers money. The ice arena is a terrific candidate,” he said.

Another opportunity for energy savings is to do the same with the street lamps in town. Barrett said the town has 600 of them.

However, they are owned and operated by National Grid. They own the light poles and charge the town a maintenance fee. The energy the lights use is billed to the town.

“We’re looking to purchase the light pole arm with the light part and replace all the current lights with LED lighting,” Barrett said.

Estimates that the town has run show a significant savings to the town in the future by reducing energy usage. Those estimates include the cost of the lights and a maintenance contract.

“The estimates show a significant financial savings by making the purchase,” Barrett said. “At first I was very skeptical. Will there really be savings with all the expenses incurred? But with the estimates we have, the answer is yes.”

An RFP has already been put out for making the light pole lamp changes and doing the maintenance.

Barrett said he not aware of any other municipalities in the area that has made the move and purchased the light pole sections though some in the state are said to be looking into it.

“We won’t take any action until we see hard figures but if they come in as expected, hopefully, we can move to the next step,” he said. “All these projects fit into our goals of reducing expenses for the town.”

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