April 24, 2022
The New York Power Authority Partnered with the University to Develop a 1.9 MWdc Project Covering Academic Podium Buildings, Providing Long-Term Energy Cost Savings
Project to Reduce Campus’ Carbon Footprint and Help Advance New York State Solar Energy Goals
ALBANY—The University at Albany and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced today that the largest rooftop solar array in the State University of New York system is now operational. The 1.9 megawatts of direct current (MWdc) solar project, constructed under NYPA oversight, covers several rooftops on the campus and will bring long-term energy cost savings and sustainability benefits to the university. The project will support New York State’s goal to procure 70 percent of New York’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and to transition to a carbon-free power grid by 2040.
SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, “Across the system, SUNY is getting greener. Our campuses are dedicating resources and creating strategic partnerships to ensure our vast infrastructure is more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient, and UAlbany’s rooftop solar project is a powerful example of how campuses can be community leaders in renewable energy. Our thanks to the New York Power Authority for partnering with us in this effort, and to Governor Kathy Hochul for prioritizing climate solutions right here in New York State.”
“NYPA is pleased to play a role in helping University at Albany develop its largest solar installation, the largest in the SUNY system, allowing for the integration of more clean renewable energy resources,” NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said. “The impressive scale of this project shows how SUNY is taking the lead when it comes to transitioning to greener technologies and systems and is an example of its continued commitment to the environment and sustainable energy sources.”
The 4,783 panels were constructed on the roof of the Life Science Research building and several roofs within the Academic Podium complex, which consists of academic and administrative buildings around a large open courtyard with two fountains. The installation is the largest rooftop solar PV project in the 64-campus State University of New York system and is a major milestone in the comprehensive energy master plan that UAlbany is implementing to significantly reduce its energy and carbon footprint.
“Bringing nearly 4,800 solar panels online is a critical step toward the University at Albany’s goal of net zero carbon emissions,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodriguez. “This project is an integral part of the University’s Climate Action Plan—and of our commitment to be a national model for campus sustainability.”
The new systems, which were developed with the Power Authority’s energy advisory services, will supply 60 percent of the estimated electricity used by the new ETEC building, designed as a hub for innovation, scholarship, applied research and commercial development. The solar installation will help the structure achieve LEED-Platinum certification, the highest LEED rating for sustainable design. Several other campus buildings have already received LEED certification, including the Platinum designation.
The project supports the SUNY Clean Energy Roadmap—announced in 2019 by SUNY in partnership with New York State’s energy agencies—to reach the university’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint 40 percent by 2030 and accelerate progress toward the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) mandate to generate 70 percent of the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030 as part of a resilient and equitable transition to a clean energy economy.
The UAlbany project, through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s NY-Sun program, received incentives to support the implementation of a successful clean energy project that directly benefits the campus. Hochul announced earlier this month that the State Public Service Commission approved a new framework for the state to achieve at least 10 gigawatts of distributed solar by 2030 and determined that extending the NY-Sun initiative was the most efficient and cost-effective path forward.
Being net metered, the system allows UAlbany to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by decreasing its use of utility delivered energy and purchasing renewable energy credits, helping the school meet its solar energy goals.
“We love that this project delivers renewable energy to UAlbany by making use of rooftop space that would otherwise be left idle,” said Jeff Denovan, senior vice president of construction at Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company, which acquired the project in 2021 and now owns, maintains and operates the system. “We look forward to future successful collaborations with NYPA, Solar Liberty, and the SUNY system to help drive the clean energy future in New York.”
“It is truly an honor for our team to build upon our partnership with UAlbany through the engineering, design and construction of the largest rooftop array within the SUNY system,” said Nathan T. Rizzo, vice president of Solar Liberty, which designed and constructed the project.
The project is hosted by the campus, and UAlbany will purchase all electricity and renewable energy credits produced through a power purchase agreement. The 4,783-panel system is tied directly into the building and will provide about 2.3 gigawatt hours of energy annually. In the first year, it will offset 607,556 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from 692,594 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.
The project will expand on a 49.8-kilowatt system on the Social Sciences roof installed in 2011 and a 27kilowatt system on Campus Center West expansion roof installed in 2017.
New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $33 billion in 102 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master’s, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, education, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School.
NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 80 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. NYPA 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. For more information visit www.nypa.gov and follow us on Twitter @NYPAenergy, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn.
Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company
Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC is a publicly reporting, non-traded limited liability sustainable infrastructure company that acquires and manages income-producing renewable energy and other energy-related businesses, including solar and wind farms. We seek to invest in high-quality projects that sell clean power under long-term contract to high-creditworthy counterparties such as utilities, municipalities, and corporations. We are long-term owner-operators, who strive to be good stewards of the land and responsible members of the communities in which we operate. We believe our focus on power production and income generation creates value that we can then pass on to our shareholders—while facilitating the transition toward a clean energy future. For more information, please visit https://greenbackercapital.com/.
About Solar Liberty
Headquartered in Buffalo, New York, Solar Liberty is a full-service provider of solar and battery storage systems. Over the past eighteen years of operation, the company has developed, installed and maintained over 150 megawatts of solar projects. With over 3,000 completed or in-process installations, Solar Liberty’s success has been based on its customer service, skilled staff, and quality solar projects.