Some 7,000 gleaming new solar panels uniformly line the site of the now-capped Town of Saugerties landfill and should be online in the next month, according to developers from East Light Solar.
The Town of Saugerties, the board of which approved the 2.8-megawatt project last March, will purchase 40 percent of the project’s total energy output, according to Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr. Approximately 800,000 kilowatts of the town’s cut will power 80 percent of town facilities and the savings will ultimately extend to taxpayers, Costello said.
The remainder of the energy produced will be sold to an estimated 150 Saugerties homes and businesses. The impressive array was erected in just three months, with construction beginning in November.
“We love landfill projects because they reuse otherwise unusable land,” said Jamie Fordyce, managing director of East Light Partners. “The town had what I’d characterize as a welcoming and fair solar law for projects like this one. We also went through the study process with Central Hudson to study the connection of the project to the grid and that came out favorably as well. Saugerties is doing really great things on the energy and sustainability front and it’s been great working with the town.”
The company has signed a 25-year lease with the town; according to Fordyce, the lease agreement costs the company $30,000 annually and $15,000 of taxes per year from the project will go toward the county, town and local school system.
According to Fordyce, residents who switch to energy produced by the solar farm will have guaranteed savings — at least 10 percent savings on their energy bill.
East Light Partners has built similar solar arrays elsewhere in New York, including Kinderhook, Greenport and elsewhere in Columbia County. According to Costello, the company has a second project approved for Myer Lane in Saugerties. Another solar developer, Geronimo Energy, is in the planning process for a solar array that will be placed in a field at the intersection of Church Road and Church Lane.
“We’ve found a way to utilize a capped landfill that wasn’t generating any income — now that we’ve leased it to East Light Solar we can see revenue come from it,” said Costello.
The construction and demolition debris dumping activities of local contractor Joe Karolys on his Fel Qui Road property has resulted in significant flooding — a 200-by-100-foot swamp of diverted water that cannot flow naturally over his property, which would have been prevented, town officials say, if Karolys had put together a Storm Water Protection Plan as per state law — that sits within 200 feet of the new solar array. While Costello expressed anxieties that the flooding “may disrupt the solar project,” Fordyce was more optimistic.
“It’s not a problem for the system, it’s built in a way to withstand flooding and heavy rains, it’s not a concern necessarily of ours,” said Fordyce. “Not that this project is, but people do build solar facilities in area that are subject to flood restrictions.”
Those interested in switching to solar energy produced at the site can visit www.elpsaugertiessolar.com.