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Solar Installation at Transit Agency Bus Garage in Buffalo

BUFFALO, NY – New York Power Authority (NYPA) President Richard M. Kessel and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) Chairman Henry M. Sloma today announced the planned installation of an approximately $1 million solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the transit agency’s bus garage on Military Road in Buffalo.

Kessel and Sloma were joined by various public officials and environmental leaders in making the announcement at the garage. Among those participating were Michele M. Iannello, Erie County legislator; Brian Smith of Citizens Campaign for the Environment; and Joan Bozer, co-chair of the WNY Sustainable Energy Association.

The 250-kilowatt (kw) roof-mounted installation will provide approximately 10 percent of the electricity required by the Frontier Garage—one of three bus garages that the NFTA operates in Buffalo. Some 1,200 solar panels will provide on-site generation for the facility, with the installation expected to be completed by next summer.

The Power Authority expects to award a contract for the work to a Buffalo-area firm, Solar Liberty of Williamsville, one of the largest solar electric integrators in New York State. The company, which submitted the low bid of the firms competing for the project, will undertake the design, procurement and installation of the PV equipment.

“We’re excited about partnering with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority on this project, whose development is in line with our continuing efforts to support clean energy jobs in Western New York through our low-cost hydropower allocations and investing in alternative energy initiatives,” Kessel said. “Beyond economic development, the planned solar project will contribute to the state’s overall efforts under Governor Paterson to combat climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and improve diversity of energy supplies. The planned solar power array also supports the Governor’s ‘45 by 15’ plan for 45 percent of the state’s electricity needs to be met by clean energy and improved energy efficiency by 2015.”

The new PV installation is expected to generate approximately 260,000 kilowatt-hours a year for the bus garage, and will lower emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, by 135 tons a year from the reduced fossil-fuel combustion.

Governor Paterson has established the goal of reducing current greenhouse gas emissions from all sources within the state by 80 percent below levels emitted in 1990 by the year 2050.

“I want to thank Governor Paterson, Richard Kessel and the Power Authority for including NFTA in the Authority’s renewable energy program and making this solar installation possible,” Sloma said. “The photovoltaic system will contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of our bus maintenance garage on Military Road, helping us to support the efforts under Governor Paterson to curb the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is a great opportunity for us to further team with the Power Authority, and we look forward to the PV system’s operation.”

NFTA currently benefits from low-cost NYPA hydropower for a portion of its electricity needs, including its light-rail system.

Kessel noted that the plans for the solar installation stem from a $21 million renewable energy program that the Power Authority launched last year for increasing power supplies from solar and other advanced clean energy technologies, particularly in Western New York and other upstate areas.

Only last June, Kessel announced plans by the Power Authority for a 1.1-megawatt (mw) solar PV project at the University at Buffalo (UB), to be the largest solar installation at any college or university in New York State and one of the largest on any campus in the country. (One mw equals 1,000 kw.) The bulk of the work for the multimillion dollar UB project, which is expected to be in operation by next fall, will be carried out by Solar Liberty and its area work force.

“The solar power array at NFTA’s Frontier Garage, like the system we’re involved with at the University at Buffalo, underscores New York State’s commitment to expand its supplies of clean, renewable energy,” said Adam Rizzo, chief executive officer, Solar Liberty. “We’re delighted to have the continuing opportunity to work with the Power Authority on new photovoltaic projects and contribute to the exponential growth solar power has experienced in recent years with advances in the technology. Not only is photovoltaic power good for the environment, it’s also great for spurring new jobs, as we’ve experienced first-hand at Solar Liberty with the work we’ve undertaken at a variety of upstate facilities.”

PV panels use silicon, a semiconductor, to generate electricity. The solar panels are comprised of individual solar cells that convert the energy from sunlight to DC power—direct current. Inverters then turn the DC power into AC power, or alternating current.

The AC power from the solar installation at the Frontier Garage will be fed into the garage’s electric distribution system, offsetting some of the electricity the facility receives from the power grid.

The more than 154,000-square-foot NFTA garage operates as a bus maintenance shop and a central storage area for bus parts and reconditioned assemblies. The garage operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Since the early 1990s, NYPA has installed more than 30 photovoltaic systems at public facilities in various parts of the state, including schools, wastewater treatment plants, museums and a medical center.

It expects to issue a request for proposals later this year for development of up to 100 mw of new PV capacity, to increase the state’s current installed solar capacity five-fold.

The Power Authority is New York’s leading renewable energy supplier, with its large and small hydroelectric facilities accounting for approximately 12 percent of the state’s electricity.

The largest of these facilities is the Niagara Power Project, whose low-cost power is linked to tens of thousands of jobs on the Niagara Frontier. Recent allocations have been made to such clean energy companies as Sunworks Solar, for a new solar manufacturing plant that will employ 175 people; Precision Electro Minerals Co. (PEMCO), a Niagara Falls manufacturer of fused silica for solar-panel grade silicon; and ENrG, a Buffalo firm expanding its production of ceramic components for clean energy systems such as fuel cells.

Additional Statements on Planned Solar Installation at NFTA Garage

Sen. Antoine M. Thompson said: “As Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, it is exciting to hear that NYPA is installing solar panels on the agency’s bus garage on Military Road. This project will use green energy to provide 10 percent of the garage’s electricity and reduce gas emissions by several tons every year.”

Assemblyman Robin Schimminger said: “The $1 million solar photovoltaic system that will be installed at the NFTA garage on Military Road is a welcome investment in clean, renewable energy and ‘green’ jobs.”

Byron W. Brown, Mayor of the City of Buffalo, said: “I commend the New York Power Authority and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for their investment in Buffalo. Their planned installation of this solar photovoltaic system will have a positive effect on our local environment, and should be an example to other businesses in our region who want to lower their energy costs and benefit our ecosystem.”

Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls, said, ” As mayor of a City that is moving to become a leader in the photovoltaics industry, I welcome this investment by the New York Power Authority in making our regional transportation authority greener and more energy efficient. It is clear that government needs to set a good example when it comes to innovative approaches to reduce our dependence on foreign energy, and providing a domestic start-up market for renewable energy technology. Solar energy is a key future growth area for our Western New York economy–this is where tomorrow’s jobs are being created.

“It is good to see NYPA taking responsibility for doing their fair share, and we expect to see further innovations and further announcements in the renewable energy sector in the months ahead, building on the dramatic progress that has been made already during Mr. Kessel’s brief time in office.”

Erie County Legislator Michele M. Iannello (D-Kenmore, Tonawanda), Chair of the Legislature’s Green Actions Community Committee, said: “This project is a wise, environmentally friendly act that will save electricity and help reduce the carbon footprint. I am glad that the work will be done with the use of a local company. I commend the Power Authority and the NFTA in their efforts toward making Erie County the most eco-friendly county in New York State.”

Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, said: “Today’s announcement by the NFTA is further evidence that the Buffalo Niagara region is a hotbed for opportunities not only in solar, but in all forms of renewable energy technology. New York State’s private and public sectors are turning to green energy, and the resources necessary to make that transition are already located right here in Buffalo Niagara.”

Brian Smith of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said: “This project shines as a gleaming example of how we can move forward into a clean, renewable energy future. This is a true win-win for our environment and economy. Solar power displaces dirty fossil fuels, creates good local jobs, and removes stress from the grid. CCE congratulates NYPA and the NFTA on this important project, which will bring New York one step closer to a clean, energy independent future.”

Joan Bozer, co-chair of the WNY Sustainable Energy Association said: “Congratulations to NYPA and the NFTA for their leadership, which is so important in our transition to the use of clean, renewable energy technologies of the future. This solar project is very exciting and we are so pleased with NFTA’s expanded use of hybrid buses.”

About NYPA:

The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. About 75 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower. Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. For more information,