Saturday, April 2, 2011

New York Town Pursues Solar Farm

The Town of Fallsburg is pursuing a solar farm on a now-closed landfill site that it hopes will power the Woodbourne and Sullivan correctional facilities and a municipal office complex.

The vision is a $35 million project that would fill the 50-acre site on East Pond Road with solar panels.

A fully built-out site could generate up to 9 megawatts of electricity, with a portion of it sold to the prison complex.

"We foresee this project being locally and privately financed and providing not only a local investment return, but much-needed construction jobs, significant community spending and tax relief to our residents," said Supervisor Steve Vegliante.

The town also wants to acquire an unused annex at Woodbourne prison that was once considered a possible location for a county jail. Fallsburg wants to renovate the annex's buildings and consolidate town offices there.

"We have several different locations where we have offices," said Vegliante. "All of these could be put into one complex."

The solar project hinges on an agreement with the Department of Corrections to buy energy from the farm, said Vegliante. Without guaranteed revenue, the project would fail to attract financing, he said.

It has, however, garnered support from U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley; state Sen. John Bonacic, R-C, Mount Hope; and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-C, Forestburgh.

Bonacic and Gunther signed a letter, along with state Sen. Michael Nozzolio and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, asking the DOC to provide information on its energy usage and on how Fallsburg could acquire the annex property.

The Kingston-based Solar Energy Consortium is also aiding the project. The organization has arranged technical assistance and meetings with possible financiers, and is helping to build political support, consortium President Carl Meyer said.

"We feel that solar energy has a real place, and we want to bring it to the fore in New York state," he said.


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