ROME, NY – The city has signed a contract for almost $250,000 to put a solar panel system on the roof of City Hall.
The Board of Estimate and Contract voted 5-0 on Thursday to approve a contract with Solar Liberty Energy Systems of Buffalo for $243,625.
The western New York firm’s offer was the lowest of the nine installers to bid. Only New York State Energy Research and Development Authority-certified installers can bid, and there are only about 100 statewide.
Last year, Rome obtained a $354,003 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant to cover the cost of installation of a 50-kilowatt solar array on the roof of City Hall. The work will start in late April or early May and is expected to take less than a month
Solar Liberty has a long list of solar projects under its belt — 250 and counting. That includes 43 schools for the Buffalo Diocese, three systems for the Town of West Seneca and two for the Town of Orchard Park and Syracuse’s City Hall. It also has projects with the University of Buffalo and Rochester International Airport, and recently won the contract for the Bronx VA Medical Center.
What will happen with the other $110,000 in state funds? “We’re working with NYSERDA to see if we can do an additional project,” said city Community and Economic Development department head Diane Shoemaker.
The panels at City Hall will be one of two on a city-owned roof. Kennedy Arena’s solar panel project has been approved for stimulus funding. When that project gets done depends on when the renovations of the rink itself are completed, as the bids for the second of two phases were received only Thursday and no contract has been awarded. These will not be the first solar panels in Rome, as several residents have taken part in NYSERDA’s residential program.
The city’s alternative energy projects look even more fiscally promising as fuel costs continue to skyrocket. The original projection for the City Hall roof project was that it would pay for itself just with savings within 20 years, but that was based on a cost estimate of $350,000. With it set to cost over $100,000 less, it will pay for itself in even less time.
The Rome Sentinel
By Steve Jones