A solar farm proposed for Oneida in Madison County would be one of the largest in Upstate New York, covering ten acres of land.
The city signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Vermont-based company groSolar to build the solar farm, which will feature roughly 9,000 3 by 3 ft solar panels. It will generate 3.5 million kilowatts of electricity, covering about 90% of the city’s electricity needs.
“The city recently completed a climate action plan to review potential strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meet sustainability goals,” said Jon Rauscher, city engineer. “We identified solar implementation as one of those strategies.”
The solar farm would save Oneida $100,000 the first year, with total savings potentially nearing $6 million over the 25-year term. Funded by a $1.1 million grant from New York State Energy and Research Development Authority as well as federal tax incentives for the developer, it will cost the city nothing.
“(The project) is a way for the city to protect itself against rising energy costs while doing its part to help protect the environment,” said Gary Skulnik, director of marketing at groSolar.
Still, the plan has faced some criticism; Oneida residents are worried that the solar farm will lower their property value, and have a lawsuit against the city. They also maintained that they were not sufficiently informed about all the details of the solar farm.
Construction is planned for early spring 2016, and should take 6-12 weeks to complete. The city would not comment on the lawsuit’s potential impact on the construction schedule.