BETHLEHEM—Recently installed solar panels are expected to save the town between $5 and $7 million.
A former clay mine in Selkirk is now home to a solar field, thanks to Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources.
The 12,350-module, 3.75 megawatt ground-mounted system spread across two arrays was installed last fall at no upfront cost to the town, as part of a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). On average, the town will save between $25,000 and $35,000 annually, with an estimated first-year savings of $150,000.
“The town’s Sustainable Bethlehem initiative is our commitment to lead by example, encourage energy efficiency and specifically to take actions that reduce gas emissions,” said Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson. “NextEra Energy Resources’ solar installation at the town’s former clay mine site meets all these goals and will also save Bethlehem taxpayers a lot of money, with no capital cost. That’s a win-win for taxpayers.”
Energy generated will be used toward town facilities, and the town will pay a pre-negotiated rate for the electricity to a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, which owns and operates the system.
“This is a great example of how NextEra Energy Resources can help a municipality turn an unused piece of land into a tool for cost-savings and sustainability,” said Matt Handel, vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources. “Oftentimes, these overlooked parcels provide opportunites for the construction of solar projects. The town of Bethlehem’s leadership recognized this opportunity and we were pleased to partner with them to leverage unused land that will result in reduced energy costs and energy savings for the residents of Bethlehem.”
The project also received support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The town will receive a 30 percent tax credit.
“Congratulations to the Town of Bethlehem for adopting clean, renewable solar energy, which will reduce taxpayer costs and help New York State meet Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) goals,” said John B. Rhodes, president and CEO, NYSERDA. “Under REV and through the state energy plan, New York will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2023 and increase renewable energy by 50 percent that same year.”