Why is solar energy being brought to Central New York yet consumed elsewhere?

Solar panel plans have appeared all over Central New York, from rural communities in Madison County to the suburban locations such as Manlius in Onondaga County. One of the main concerns expressed by many neighbors is that the energy generated in their community is used elsewhere.

One example is the defunct Oneida County Airport situated in Oriskany. The construction of a solar panel farm that measures 150-acre will begin next year. The energy generated will be utilized to run up to half of Albany’s Empire State Plaza. The New York Power Authority and the Office of General Services are in charge of the project. The state now owns the state preparation training center. DG Development & Acquisitions, a subsidiary of NextEra, the world’s largest wind and solar energy generator, is working on the project. Solar energy to the tune of over 30 megawatts will be generated. The goal is to help the state meet its goal of generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2040.

Other energy-saving measures at the Empire State Plaza include new LED light fixtures that will cut energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The investment totals $16 million. “Student interest has grown over time to the extent where we didn’t have these seminars 10 to 15 years before and now, we do,” said SUNY ESF’s Neal Abrams.

In the chemistry department at the school, he teaches solar installation classes. He claims that interest in these courses has escalated to the point where he currently has over 50,000 students enrolled throughout the world. He claims that the solar sector provides chances in a variety of fields, including engineering. Solar panels cover the whole southern side of the Baker Lab on the SUNY ESF campus, from the very first level to the top.

Looking ahead, he described the solar business and jobs that could be created in the state as ‘bright.’ The New York Power Authority’s Sarah Salati agrees. Salati is in charge of the power authority’s contracting and bidding for generation assets. They generate 25% of the electricity used by the state’s system. Solar project ideas, she noted, have gotten stronger.

“Developers are flocking to New York since the state is providing incentives and long-term support for those contracts,” she explained. Renewable energy providers are given annual contracts with the state, usually for a period of 20 years. The state and the developer have agreed that the state is going to help fund the project if the developer can show that it will be profitable. The state will buy the energy generated according to the developer; however, it is usually 100% bought. The state issues a renewable energy certificate (REC) for every megawatt produced. That REC is sold to energy companies after being handed to the state for a fee. The state does not profit from the sale or purchase of RECs.

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