back to Blog

Solar energy lights up campus

New Paltz, NY solar array
Rachael Purtell
May 10, 2018

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the completion of a cutting-edge, solar energy and battery storage system installed by Solar Liberty and engineered by Princeton Power Systems on campus on April 25. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and officials from the company that developed the 217-kilowatt solar energy and battery storage system atop Elting Gym were also in attendance.

According to a press release by Cuomo’s office, this project supports his initiative to increase the transmission of clean and renewable energy to meet an energy storage target of 1,500 megawatts in New York State by 2025.

“Energy storage, especially when paired with renewable energy sources, makes up the building blocks of the Governor’s ambitious energy goals for the state,” said Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance, Office of Cuomo. “This partnership of state government entities will provide the road map to success for these rapidly emerging technologies.”

Research on this system indicates that New York State utilities will be able to optimize the amount of renewable energy utilized on the state’s power grid, in support of the Governor’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. The electricity generated can be both used on the spot and stored for later, and excess power can be fed into the grid, according to University President Donald P. Christian. The system will also provide a backup energy source for Elting Gym which is a Red Cross Emergency Shelter.

Christian also believes the system will be helpful on peak response days over the hot summer months. On days with high temperatures, there is not enough electricity across the state so some of the biggest users, like SUNY New Paltz for example, are asked to reduce their energy consumption for a few hours.

“To a degree that battery storage system can be used to offset some of that peak demand response requirement,” he said.

This $1.37 million project was funded by several entities, according to Christian. Cuomo’s BuildSmart NY supplied $580,000, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through NY-Sun $272,000, Central Hudson Gas & Electric $189,000 and the remainder was funded by New York Power Authority (NYPA) which the college will pay back over time.

Christian added that Central Hudson has the most solar penetration in its service area per user in New York State.

“New Yorkers know all too well the devastating impact of climate change, and we have taken bold action to slow its effects and invest in the energies of tomorrow,” Cuomo said. “This renewable energy and storage project will greatly enhance the college’s resiliency in the event of an emergency while also reducing the state’s carbon footprint and saving taxpayer dollars year-round.”