Solar farming and renewable energy are expanding to Cayuga County.
Solar Farms New York just opened a state-of-the-art Solar Farm in Auburn with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Tuesday, September 13th.
This new solar farm adds to their list of 30-plus farms in New York State.
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What is Solar Farms New York?
Solar Farms New York is a community solar farm company that brings renewable energy to communities across New York.
At the ceremony, members of the Cayuga County Legislature, Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RPDB), local residents and subscribers all gathered to see the brand new solar farm.
Solar Farms New York said they have almost 500 people across Cayuga County signed up, which adds to a total of over 15,000 residents and businesses in New York State.
The solar farm has 12,376 panels that are estimated to last for 30-plus years after the farm begins operating. It’s expected to begin operation before the end of the year.
How did the process start?
Chris Carrick, the Energy Program Manager for CNY RPDB, explained that the process started in 2016 with the idea to help municipalities in the county save money and time instead of installing their own solar panels.
“We secured some funding from the Department of Energy (NYSERDA) to hire some consulting assistants to identify municipally owned buildings and properties that could be suitable for solar,” said Carrick.
After funding was received, Noah Siegel, the Project Manager for Solar Farms NY, received a request for proposal from Carrick that included a plan with the developer Abundant Solar Power Inc. in Skaneateles, to build 30-plus community solar projects across Central New York.
“We have now built four projects. And we’re looking to turn three of those on around the end of this year. We’ll be providing energy bill savings to over 3000 residents in the Finger Lakes region,” said Siegel.
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Cayuga County is saving taxpayers money and bringing renewable energy to local municipalities
David Gould, Chairman of the Cayuga County Legislature, said this new solar farm will have a positive impact on Cayuga County.
“20% is going to go to the county itself, which will save taxpayers a lot of money over a period of years. Then 400 families will decrease their bill by 10% every month for years to come,” said Gould.
“More signed up from what I understand and they got a solar farm down in Tompkins County where it’s taking care of the overflow.”
Holistic approach to solar farming
Siegel explained that instead of taking away farmers’ land, they buy land from unused landfills and lots, which is why the Elbridge and Auburn landfills are the next project projected to bring 100 homeowners to subscribe.
Solar Farms also works with Cornell and pays local farmers to use their sheep for grazing around the solar panels to keep the grass down.
According to Siegal, The Cayuga County solar farm is a single-access tracker, which will produce more electricity as well.
“So the panels actually follow the sun throughout the day. And we expect to produce 20% more electricity on this site versus a fixed, fixed tilted system.”
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