Six months after breaking ground in May 2020, the Saranac Lake Community Solar project is expected to be fully operational. Despite still undergoing construction, it is currently taking subscribers to have all units filled by the anticipated November 2020 launch date. The project is the first of its kind for Adirondack Park and will likely be followed by additional installations and farms for more solar programs.
Shortly after canvassing for subscribers, the Saranac Lake Community Solar program had hit more than 60% of its target. That includes upwards of 250 residents and small businesses. Once operational, the farm will generate 2.5 million kilowatt-hours per year.
The new installation is being built on 10 acres found along Route 86, north of Lake Colby. The land is nearly half of a larger parcel owned by private resident Lee Keet. Keet originally purchased the property in 1999 to stop a Walmart from being constructed. The full 22-acre plot has been divided for the Saranac Lake Community Solar project, and parts of it will be donated to a nonprofit organization dedicated to solar farms.
To make the community solar project possible, Saranac Lake Community Solar worked with National Grid, the power company providing energy to Saranac locals. Customers that subscribe to the community solar program will enjoy benefits like up to a 10% savings on their monthly utility bills. To make the program accessible to all, Saranac Lake Community Solar and National Grid opted not to have a subscription fee.
Behind the project is Sunvestment Energy Group from Frederick, MD and RER Energy Group of Reading PA. Sunvestment’s business development director, Mike Roach, spoke on the new project and its impact on New York’s carbon reduction goals. Roach praises the efficiency of community solar, which doesn’t require individual panels to be installed on businesses and homes.
To further help the environment, the new farm will be the first in Adirondacks to be pollinator-friendly. The trend ensures that these installations don’t affect the local ecosystem.