Cheektowaga, NY – “There’s no down side to solar energy”, says Bellevue Fire District Commissioner Jamie Casucci of the new solar photovoltaic system installed at his firehouse at 511 Como Park Boulevard in Cheektowaga. The District provides fire protection and emergency medical services in the town, covering about 7 square miles and responding to approximately 500 calls annually.
The 140-panel, 28 kilowatt system was installed by Solar Liberty of Williamsville to save the district and taxpayers money over the long term. Over the system’s 25-year warranted lifetime, it is expected to save $191,000. That represents a 17.4% return on investment. Most of the up-front costs for the system were offset by a $137,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). The remaining costs will be recouped in 6 years from the value of the electricity it will produce.
So far, that investment is paying off: since the beginning of this year, they have saved over $2,000 in electricity costs
Bellevue is the latest firehouse installation by Solar Liberty, which has also installed solar panels for the Eggertsville and South Dayton Fire Departments. Adam Rizzo, President of Solar Liberty, says that installing solar panels on a public or non-profit facility sends a clear message to the community: “…upgrading a building with a solar energy system makes sense both financially and environmentally. Saving money on electricity is especially important for organizations that are dependent on the community for their support.”
Besides the financial savings, Commissioner Casucci can point to other environmental benefits for his firehouse as well: during its 25-year lifetime, the solar system will reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by 501 tons of CO2. That equals the same impact from planting 20,000 trees or removing 911,000 miles of vehicle travel from our roads.
Solar Liberty is the region’s leading solar installer, having put hundreds of systems in place around New York State for educational, commercial, residential, and government clients. The company was founded in 2003 by brothers Adam and Nathan Rizzo, and was named the 5th fastest growing private company in the energy sector by Inc. Magazine in 2008.
Locally, Solar Liberty has installed solar panels at Catholic Diocese schools, Merchant’s Insurance headquarters, and for the Town of West Seneca. Their business continues to grow, with future installations including the new 1.1 MW project at UB’s North Campus, the NFTA Bus Garage, and the Rochester International Airport.
By Roxanne Button
Buffalo Green Design Examiner