Solar power production at New York State Parks will more than double with four projects to be built in the Hudson Valley and Long Island as an example of projects aligned with the goals of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Restore Mother Nature bond act proposal.
A joint effort by state parks and the New York Power Authority, the new solar arrays support a statewide effort to increase use of renewable energy across state properties, make the parks system more sustainable and energy efficient, and support New York’s ambitious clean energy goals.
“State Parks must continue efforts to become more sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. “Our goal is to keep scaling up our solar capacity and produce enough power to cover half of our needs by 2025.”
“New York State’s parks are a great place to harness the power of the sun and to model sustainability as a key element of energy production throughout the state,” said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. “Expanding the use of clean energy technology makes a public statement about the importance of combatting climate change and helping the state reduce its carbon footprint as we move toward a cleaner future.”
Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act signed last summer by Cuomo, the state has a goal of renewables supplying 70 percent of electricity usage by 2030, and of zero greenhouse gas emissions from the electrical grid by 2040.
The four solar arrays at parks locations are expected to produce about 4.6 GWh of energy a year, to be added to the 2.2 GWh hours currently produced at 29 current solar projects developed at state parks since 2012. Acting as renewable energy advisor and leading the project, NYPA has been working with state parks as part of an ongoing effort to combat climate change.
Once the new arrays are completed this year, state parks will be covering 15 percent of its total statewide energy consumption through solar power, up from the current 4 percent figure. This will offset all the power demand in the Park’s Taconic Region on the eastern side of the Hudson River, which includes 14 parks and eight historic sites in Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties.
By 2025, state parks aims to produce about 25 GWh, which would cover half of the electricity demand at its 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses and other facilities.
The solar photovoltaic arrays totaling nearly 3.8 MW are to be built at:
- Sunken Meadow State Park, Kings Park, Suffolk County — Two ground arrays at Field 5 will contain a total of 988 solar panels that are expected to produce about 444,100 kWh annually and will connect to the grid through a PSEG distribution line.
- Taconic State Park, Copake Falls, Columbia County — A ground array at Orphan Farm Road will contain 3,640 panels that are expected to produce about 1.6 GWh the first year and will connect to the grid through a NYSEG distribution line.
- James Baird State Park, Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County — A ground array at the Tobin II site will contain 6,474 panels that are expected to produce about 2.7 GWh in the first year and will connect to the grid through a Central Hudson distribution line.
- Clarence Fahnestock State Park, Kent, Putnam County — A ground array at the Canopus parking lot will contain 384 panels that are expected to produce nearly 166,000 kWh in the first year and will connect to the grid through a NYSEG line
State parks will purchase the energy produced by its systems from the project owner AES Distributed Energy, a leader in renewable energy generation, and receive a credit on its utility bills based on its energy produced. Construction of all four locations is expected to begin later this year.