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County Hopes Project Will Be a Ray of Sunshine

OSWEGO, NY — The Oswego County Legislature’s Infrastructure and Facilities Committee met Tuesday morning and approved a contract with Solar Liberty for a solar panel project that will install panels on top of the county health complex on Bunner Street, in Oswego.

Dave Turner, director of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, told those in attendance that while Solar Liberty was not the lowest bidder for the project, the company did have all of the experience required in the request for proposals (RFP) made by the county. The Buffalo-based company also comes highly recommended by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), he said.

According to Turner, the lowest bidder for the project did not meet all of the requirements in the RFP, and Oswego County’s share for the solar panel project would increase if the county did go with the lowest bidder. He noted that his department applied for a grant for the project three years ago and the bids came in lower than originally anticipated.

The bottom line is that the county’s pay-off period for the project has been reduced from eight years to five and a half years, Turner said. This is because Solar Liberty was able to increase the project’s solar output by adding additional solar panels to generate more energy from the sun. The project’s cost is $105,900, with the resolution passed by the Infrastructure and Facilities Committee stating the project will not exceed that amount. Oswego County’s portion of the project is $20,000.

This total includes the additional solar panels, inverter and monitoring equipment. The monitoring equipment includes two kiosks that will each feature a 32-inch screen that displays the energy output from the solar panels. These Web-based kiosks will be stationed at the Bunner Street health complex, and the other could be installed at the County Office Building due to its high traffic rate. County Administrator Phil Church suggested having a link on the county’s website show what is seen on the kiosk, and Turner said that that suggestion is doable.

This is not the first time Solar Liberty has been obtained to install solar panels in the city of Oswego. Earlier this year, St. Luke Apartments had 118 solar panels installed on the apartment complex’s roof. The apartment complex is located at 131 W. First St. According to Melanne Keim, manager of St. Luke Apartments, the solar panels themselves were paid for through a grant from NYSERDA, and Solar Liberty donated the installation of the technology.

The energy derived from the solar panels is used to illuminate lights in all of the common areas of the seven-story building, including the main lobby, hallways and community room.

“We have actually found that because these panels cover all of the common areas … it’s cut our electric bill almost in half,” Keim said. “It’s incredible. I never, never expected the return we got.”

The resolution to hire Solar Liberty will come before the entire Legislature at its monthly meeting in November, scheduled for 2 p.m., Nov. 10, at the County Office Building, located at 34 E. Bridge St., Oswego.

By Erin Place
The Palladium Times