A push toward becoming primarily reliant on renewable energy is a cause worth celebrating. On April 22, 2020, the town of Saugerties in Ulster County, NY hosted an Earth Day ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new two-megawatt community solar farm. Due to circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was held over Zoom, with Supervisor Fred Costello, Jr. providing the opening remarks.
According to Costello, the local government will purchase 40 percent of the energy output and leave the remaining 60 percent of the energy for residents. For its purchase, the government will receive a ten percent discount, which is the same discount offered to residents.
Wendy Wolfe, a co-founder of East Light Partners, and David Bliss, vice president of Common Energy, joined Costello on the Zoom panel. East Light Partners is the company responsible for developing the new community solar farm.
Bliss provided detailed information on how community solar farms work and their role in benefiting the environment. Over the Zoom call, Bliss explained how renewable solar energy can replace fossil fuels and lower emissions. He then described how the electric grid receives energy from the farm.
The Saugerties farm was built upon the former Saugerties Town Landfill off Route 212. Upon opening, Common Energy launched a program to allow subscribers to take advantage of the 2,675-kilowatts being produced. According to Common Energy’s website, each subscriber can prevent 2,290-pounds of CO2 emissions.
This isn’t the first community solar farm to open in Ulster county. In November 2019, the Town of Rochester started producing energy for more than 400 subscribers. Located along Route 209 in the hamlet of Accord, Rochester’s farm includes more than 14,000 solar panels that generate 5.6-megawatts of power. One megawatt of that power has been reserved for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Solar for All program to benefit low-income residents.