SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers officials are looking at a half-dozen town-owned properties on which to locate solar panels to supply some of its municipal electricity needs.
The sites—four parks, the highway department headquarters and Reynolds House at Angle Fly Preserve—meet the strict requirements for solar-panel placement, including the need for eight hours of sunshine daily, the chairman of the Somers Energy Environment Committee told a town board work session this month.
Under an “aggressive” timetable, solar panels would be erected by year’s end at the chosen site, on a rooftop, atop a carport or other structure or even on the ground, Michael Blum, the advisory panel’s chair, told the board members. Electricity generated by the panels would cut Somers’ utility bills accordingly.
The Somers effort is part of a countywide drive by Sustainable Westchester, a coalition of local governments focused on environmental concerns, to establish a Municipal Solar Buyers Group comprising the organization’s 34 member municipalities. “They may not be getting all 34,” Blum said. “They’re getting some.”
He told the board at its Feb. 2 meeting that a Florida-based corporation, NextEra Energy Inc., would install solar panels at the chosen site. Under a proposed 25-year power-purchase agreement, NextEra would then sell the output to the town.
“It’s exactly what we did with Solarize,” Blum said, referring to recent efforts throughout the county, including Somers, to encourage solar-panel installations in private homes. “All those towns participated in [the] Solarize [campaign], right? We’re doing the same thing here. The difference is this is for a municipality; it has nothing to do with residences.”
Like their residents, most Westchester municipalities get their electricity from Con Edison. Somers and a handful of other northern Westchester towns are customers of New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG).
Locally, under Sustainable Westchester’s municipal-purchase plan, after NextEra Energy built the solar-panel plant, it would sell the output to the Town of Somers at a fixed rate, reducing the town’s consumption of NYSEG-delivered electricity. Any electricity generated by the panels but not used by the town would be metered sent into the power grid. Somers’ municipal utility bills would be further reduced, based on its metered contributions.
Under the tight timeline suggested by Sustainable Westchester, a Somers site would be chosen by March 31. In addition to the highway department complex off Route 100 and the Angle Fly site, solar-panel installations are being considered at Reis Park, Van Tassell Park, Koegel Park and the dog park, which is next to the highway department’s Route 100 property.