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Solar Energy System Planned for Solvay Middle School


March 26, 2007


SOLVAY—Energy from the sun will be providing some of Solvay Middle School’s electricity, thanks to a cooperative effort involving the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Village of Solvay’s municipal electric system. 

Officials announced Monday that a two-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system is scheduled to be installed this summer at the three-year-old school.  In addition to supplying clean, economical power, the unit will give students a firsthand look at a renewable energy source and will complement classroom instruction. 

Similar projects are planned for schools served by the Arcade municipal system in Wyoming County and the Lake Placid municipal system in Essex County.  The work will be funded in part through grants from NYSERDA as a result of the settlement of a lawsuit by the New York State Office of the Attorney General against the Ohio Edison Co. last year.  The Independent Energy Efficiency Program (IEEP), established by more than 20 of the state’s municipal systems to carry out energy efficiency programs in their service areas, will coordinate the projects. 

“The Power Authority is pleased to be part of this initiative, which will meet important energy, environmental and educational needs,” said Timothy S. Carey, NYPA’s president and chief executive officer.  “Increased use of solar power can help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the threat of global warming.  Learning about this and other energy options will enable today’s students to contribute to informed decision-making in the future.” 

NYSERDA President Peter R. Smith said, “The School Power…NaturallySM program has been a successful tool in educating New Yorkers about energy, particularly the potential of solar energy to power our homes, schools and workplaces.  Partnering with NYPA, we’re able to expand this program into three schools where students and local residents can see firsthand the benefits of a solar photovoltaic system.” 

John R. Montone, superintendent of the Village of Solvay Electric Department, said, “We’re delighted to be part of this program, which recognizes that solar power is an important option for creating a secure and clean energy future.  Our new project will meet a small part of the Middle School’s energy needs, but it will play a major role in demonstrating the principles and benefits of solar power to students and the community.” 

“We welcome our partnership with NYSERDA and NYPA,” said William Barry, a representative of the IEEP, which was established in 2001.  “It will give added impetus to our efforts to bring economic, environmental and operational benefits to our municipal-system members by creating new opportunities to save energy and use clean new technologies.” 

In each of the three municipal systems, the Power Authority will provide technical assistance  and will oversee the projects to ensure that they meet the objectives of a landmark 2003 agreement that, among other provisions, called for increased cooperation between NYPA and the state’s 51 municipal electric systems and rural cooperatives in promoting energy efficiency.  

NYPA meets the bulk of these systems’ electricity needs with low-cost hydroelectric power from its Niagara Power Project near Niagara Falls. 

The new projects are among the first to benefit from Power Authority approval last May of municipal system and cooperative participation in the Authority’s statewide Energy Services Program, covering energy efficiency and clean-energy initiatives.  They are also in line with NYPA’s Power to Schools program, which provides for the Authority to work with public and private schools throughout the state to advance energy efficiency and clean technologies.   

Funding of $12,000 is being negotiated with NYSERDA for Solvay Middle School.  The total project cost is $23,800, with additional financing coming through the IEEP.  These financing costs will be recovered through a small charge (one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt hour) on Solvay customer bills. 

The schools will use curricular materials, lesson plans and background information that were developed under NYSERDA’s School Power…NaturallySM program and are available to all teachers at  These materials help students learn about solar energy in a creative, interactive manner, and each activity lists the New York State educational standards it addresses.  IEEP will provide the schools with instrumentation and software to permit ongoing computerized monitoring of each solar project’s performance. 

Energy efficiency measures already in place at Solvay Middle School include high-efficiency lighting, as well as lighting controls; a high-efficiency chiller; an energy management system; energy-saving windows; and roof and wall insulation.  In addition, the village municipal system has completed various energy efficiency projects at other facilities through the IEEP. 

Prime Energy Solutions, Inc. of Scipio Center will install the school’s solar project. 

Solar photovoltaic systems include panels of semiconductor solar cells that convert sunlight directly into electricity, as well as inverters that change the electricity from direct current to the alternating current required for conventional use.

  About NYPA:

 ■    NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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