Bridge Authority Turns On Solar Panel Array

HIGHLAND – Recently, the New York State Bridge Authority turned on a 1,332 solar panel array constructed at the west end of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. This 486 KW solar array will generate approximately 26% of the electricity used by the Bridge Authority, reducing CO2 emissions by 356 metric tons per year. The total cost for the project was $117,000 and this investment will pay for itself in 13 years from the energy savings. This project is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal, which requires 100 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, by 2040. The Green New Deal was established to help fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable energy supply.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York State is leading the nation by pursuing innovative renewable energy sources,” said Bridge Authority Chairman Richard A. Gerentine.

“This is the kind of leadership necessary to fight the harmful effects of climate change by finding creative ways to lower our dependence on electricity generated from fossil fuels.

Thanks to Governor Cuomo, New York State is providing a successful model that other states can follow to make a difference for generations to come.”

“The New York State Bridge Authority is pleased to contribute towards Governor Cuomo’s ’100 by 40’ goal and be an example of how to tackle the challenges of climate change,” said Bridge Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero. “With the success of this project now realized, the Bridge Authority will explore additional sites to build more solar panel arrays, further reducing our dependence on commercially sourced electricity.”

The solar panel array will dramatically decrease commercially sourced electricity used by the Bridge Authority, equaling 389,241 pounds of coal burned every year or 40,064 gallons of gasoline consumed. The completion of the solar project comes on the heels of the Bridge Authority converting all of its street lights and lightbulbs from traditional high-energy consuming street lights to light-emitting diode (LED) street lights. The electricity utilized to power these street lights constitutes a large portion of the Bridge Authority’s total electric consumption and the conversion to LED street lights decreased the Authority’s electricity use by 22%. When combined with the electricity that will be produced by the new solar array, this will equate to a 48% reduction in traditional commercially sourced electricity used by the Bridge Authority.

This project was conducted as a public-private partnership between the New York State Bridge Authority, Active Solar Development, LLC., and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). This project was made possible through the state’s NY-Sun Grant program, which is part of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). The NY-Sun Grant allowed the New York State Bridge Authority to lock in a fixed electricity price of 10¢ per-kilowatt hour for 20 years.

NY-Sun is Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Since 2011, solar in New York State has increased more than 1,000 percent and leveraged nearly $2.8 billion in private investments. There are more than 12,000 people engaged in solar jobs across New York.

As part of the public-private partnership, the New York State Bridge Authority worked with Active Solar Development, LLC. to develop the project; install, operate and maintain the solar panels; and maintain the interconnection to the surrounding power grid operated by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation. The New York State Bridge Authority received consulting services from the clean power consulting company EarthKind Energy regarding utility cost analysis, solar project sizing, bid documentation preparation, contract negotiation and project management.

“The completion of this solar array demonstrates that the New York State Bridge Authority is leading by example in the development of innovative renewable energy resources to meet Governor Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals,” said John B. Rhodes, Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission. “Projects such as this will help meet the Governor’s Green New Deal mandate that New York’s electricity be 100 percent carbon free by 2040.”

NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said, “This solar array at the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge is the latest example of how private-public partnerships are serving a vital role in helping meet Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy goals and assisting the state in “leading by example” in the transition to using cleaner energy sources. The environmental stewardship demonstrated by the partners in this project highlights the collaborative effort that is needed to achieve the Governor’s mandate of 100 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2040.”

“Central Hudson supports the New York State Bridge Authority in utilizing this clean source of locally produced renewable energy,” said Charles A. Freni, President and C.E.O. of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. “Our solar interconnection program is one of the most robust in the state, which, on a per capita basis, has facilitated among the highest levels of solar installations in New York. This new facility will help the Bridge Authority meet it’s clean energy goals and provide environmental benefits for our entire region.”

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said, “Riverkeeper applauds the New York State Bridge Authority for the innovation and commitment reflected in this great new solar energy project at the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. New York needs a lot more of such projects to meet its ambitious renewable power goals, so we thank the Bridge Authority for helping to show the way to a carbon-free energy future.”

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Scenic Hudson commends NYSBA Executive Director Joe Ruggiero and his team for developing a 486 KW solar array to power operations of the Kington Rhinecliff Bridge and other energy slashing measures the authority has implemented. These initiatives will help achieve Governor Andrew Cuomo’s visionary goals for reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to renewable energy in the state, while serving as a model in the use of renewable energy and conservation at other bridges and infrastructure projects in the region and across the country. The Hudson Valley is already experiencing the impacts of climate change – destructive storms, rising sea level, impacts on farmer’s growing seasons. Through cutting edge initiatives like those of the Bridge Authority, New York State and the Hudson Valley can show the way in ensuring a sustainable future.”

“The New York State Bridge Authority has taken an important step toward the transition to green energy with a newly built solar array to power the electric needs of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge,” said Robert Heinemann, Chair of the Mid-Hudson Group of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “It is fitting that this bridge links Dutchess and Ulster counties providing access to New York’s magnificent Catskill mountains. The Mid-Hudson Group of the Atlantic Chapter of Sierra applauds this green step in the right direction. May it be one of many by New York State in an urgent and coordinated effort to limit the effects of global warming.”

Active Solar Development, LLC. President Frank McCleneghen said, “As a local NY State solar developer, we are happy to be partnering with the NYS Bridge Authority. We are excited to see NY State’s energy policy at work providing jobs, saving money, and producing clean energy.”

“The New York State Bridge Authority is a true leader in acting to meet New York State’s impressive clean energy goals”, said Ron Kamen, CEO of New York State clean power consulting company Starphire.Net, Inc, incorporated in 1999 and doing business as “EarthKind Energy”. “The Bridge Authority’s combined lighting efficiency reductions and solar energy generation makes them the first State entity to effectively meet Governor Cuomo’s “100 by 40” target. It’s this type of true leadership that will provide stable, affordable electricity prices; save taxpayers money; and create a healthier and more sustainable future for all of us.”

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