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Western New York Firm to Install Solar Project: New York Power Authority Awards Contract to Advance PV Project at Univ. at Buffalo

 Connie M. Cullen, NYPA

 Jim Walters, Solar Liberty

June 29, 2009


WILLIAMSVILLE—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel today announced that he will be seeking approval of a contract for up to $7.5 million for the installation of a 1.1-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the University at Buffalo (UB), which will call for the bulk of the work to be undertaken by a Western New York firm, Solar Liberty, of Williamsville.   

Kessel indicated that the contract for the project is subject to the approval of the NYPA Board of Trustees, which will be considered on Tuesday at its regularly scheduled meeting at the Niagara Power Project’s Power Vista, the visitors center for the project.  

Solar Liberty, one of the premier integrators and installers of renewable energy technologies in North America, will be responsible for the solar panel procurement for the UB initiative and providing the Western New York labor for installing the equipment.    

“Most of the work for this project, which will be the largest solar installation at any college or university in New York State and one of the largest on any campus in the country, will be undertaken by Western New Yorkers,” Kessel said.  “Solar power and other sources of renewable energy tend to be labor intensive in their applications, contributing to their appeal as a way to develop new industries and spur economic activity.  In fact, renewable energy is one of the key elements of Governor Paterson’s strategy for building a new economy for the people of New York, and the Power Authority is delighted to be contributing to this with the solar power array at the University at Buffalo and other clean energy initiatives.”

“This project shows that you can produce clean, renewable energy at a commercial site, or on your home’s roof, at a lower cost than buying it from a traditional power plant.  This past year we’ve seen a huge increase in projects coming from education, nonprofit, and government institutions. We’re getting calls everyday from new customers who are looking toward renewable solar electricity to save money,” said Solar Liberty Chief Executive Officer Adam Rizzo.  “With so many students, faculty and visitors at UB, we’re expecting this project to educate and motivate people to consider having solar electric systems for their own homes and businesses.  Personally, this job gives us special satisfaction.  Most of our management and staff are UB and SUNY graduates. This NYPA project allows us to continue to hire more people and stimulate new jobs in the WNY green economy.”

“This announcement is hopefully the first of many more instances of job creation through the development of alternative energy sources here in Western New York.  The strong role to be played by one of our region's alternative energy pioneers, Solar Liberty, demonstrates that visionary, entrepreneur-driven Western New York businesses can be major economic beneficiaries of the implementation of Governor Paterson's "45 by 15" plan to free our state from dependence on fossil fuels,” said City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.  “As NYPA shifts increasingly toward clean, renewable energy sources, there are going to many more opportunities for job creation up and down the supply chain.  These are the new jobs that will sustain our economy into the 21st Century.”

Specifically, the contract, which was subject to a competitive process, would be awarded to DeCloet Greenhouse Manufacturing, an Ontario firm, as the lowest-price bidder.  DeCloet will be teaming with Solar Liberty on the UB project with as much as $6 million of the contract value, or 80 percent, expected to go to Solar Liberty.

The UB PV project at the North Campus in Amherst will serve as a cornerstone of a $21 million renewable energy program by NYPA that is expected to focus on Western New York and other upstate areas.  Once put into operation, the UB project is expected to be the largest ground-mounted solar PV system in New York State, one of the largest on a college campus in the nation and one of the largest PV systems in the Northeast.  It will consist of approximately 5,000 solar panels, generate 1.3 million kilowatt hours of energy annually and provide power for 735 student apartments housing nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

The partnership with Solar Liberty is consistent with NYPA’s efforts to support growing the clean energy industry and jobs in upstate New York, and in particular, Western New York.  Other efforts include:

An allocation of 40 mw in May 2008 to Globe Specialty Metals for the company’s reopening and expansion of a facility in Niagara Falls that will include the investment of $60 million in a facility that will manufacture silicon for solar power systems and will create 500 jobs;

An allocation of 650 kilowatts last March to Precision Electro Minerals Co., a Niagara Falls manufacturer of fused silica for solar-panel grade silicon and other industrial products that will create 13 new jobs and bring about the return to service and upgrade of two idled furnaces;

The Great Lakes Off-Shore Wind project, for advancing the development of wind power projects in the New York State waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario that would create at least 120 mw of clean energy and act as the catalyst to spur clean energy jobs throughout the region;

An up-to 100-mw  photovoltaic solar project, with installations at various sites throughout New York, and which will position the state with the second highest PV-installed capacity in the country; and

 NYPA’s commitment to invest $1.4 billion by 2015 in energy efficiency projects, which will cut energy costs at schools, hospitals and other public facilities and provide increased opportunities for clean energy employment throughout the state.

About NYPA:

■    The New York Power Authority 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 New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.  ■    About 75 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state.  ■    For more information,  

About Solar Liberty: 

Solar Liberty is one of the largest solar electric integrators in New York State with offices near Buffalo and Syracuse. Our installation divisions serve government, nonprofit, education, commercial, and residential customers. Named by Inc. Magazine as the 5th fastest growing private company in the US energy sector, Solar Liberty is committed to creating renewable energy solutions with turnkey service and high‐quality components. For more information go to 

About UB:

 The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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