By JOHN BORGOLINI
JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County officials seek to save on energy costs this year by installing a 10-acre solar array at the county landfill. The solar array is expected to be installed near the entrance of the landfill and is expected to save about $4.3 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.
Cliff Engle, director of the county’s solid waste department, said the installation process was expected to begin sometime after the new year. The front-entrance location was selected to make access to National Grid’s system easier, and it is believed to be the best location for the array to get sunlight. Solar Liberty will assist the county with constructing the solar array. Engle said the savings in electricity costs is expected to benefit municipalities throughout the county.
“Any opportunity to add an alternative energy element to the local grid is a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “Not only for those who pay the bill, but also for the development of the technology itself. And I believe this project fills both of those needs very, very well.”
Engle said the landfill ties into a separate line than the county, but the site could still see some of its power come from the array. County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the array plans are still being worked on and officials are still trying to determine the best way to get the connection set up with National Grid. He said officials are hope to get the array connected and constructed in the early part of this year.
In regards to the savings the solar array will generate, Stead said they are mainly about cutting costs rather than generating more money to use for other projects. “The way it’s structured, it’s a savings plan for all the different departments,” he said. “It will basically be providing discounts back against the billing and energy costs of all the different county departments.”