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Lake Ontario, the source of MCWA water is the 13th largest lake in the world with 393 cubic miles of water. It is also the second deepest of the great lakes, at an average of 282 feet

Construction underway on cost-saving solar project

As part of its long-term goal to reduce energy expenses, Monroe County Water Authority announced plans to install a five-megawatt solar energy array on its existing property at the corner of Penfield Road and Watson Hulbert Road in the town of Penfield. Construction started in June and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The array will benefit MCWA customers by using clean, sustainable energy to offset its power bills and also help New York State achieve its clean energy targets including generating 70 percent of its electricity through renewable resources by 2030.

Through a competitive bid process led by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), national solar energy developer Sol Systems in Washington D.C. was selected to install and operate the solar array at no expense to MCWA in return for all energy credits generated at a fixed price per kWh over 25 years. The array is expected to generate 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which will be delivered to RG&E and credited to MCWA on its energy bills. The system will offset more than 15 percent of the 50 million kilowatts per year required by MCWA for water pumping and treatment.

“By installing this renewable carbon dioxide-free power source with no upfront expense, our budgeted electrical costs will be reduced, which will continue to help keep our water rates affordable,” said Monroe County Water Authority Executive Director Nicholas Noce. “Additionally, we will reduce our carbon footprint and foster sustainability through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.”

The MCWA project is one of the first in New York State to utilize bifacial solar modules, which allow light to enter both sides of a panel, increasing total energy generation. The town of Penfield already has a traditional solar array on Jackson Road.

“Placing a large-scale solar array on public land is a great way to model a strong commitment to renewable energy goals while providing a significant financial benefit,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of NYPA, which is serving as project advisor, helping with preliminary site assessment, competitive bidding and project execution oversight. “The Monroe County Water Authority is stepping up to support a new clean energy source that will generate affordable and reliable electricity and help achieve the state’s goal of a 100 percent carbon-free electricity sector by 2040.”

MCWA has been involved in several water supply initiatives as part of its Environmental Stewardship Program. This project is its first foray into renewable energy. However, it has long participated in state and local energy load shedding programs which have generated $5.5M in revenue over the past 19 years. MCWA has also received nearly $1M in grants and rebates for installing energy efficient equipment.

“Sol Systems is very excited to work with MCWA on this forward-thinking project,” said William Graves, director of Origination for Sol Customer Solutions. “This project will help give MCWA long-term visibility into its energy costs, while providing a clean source of electricity to RG&E’s energy portfolio.” Sol Customer Solutions is a joint venture between Sol Systems and Capital Dynamics. Capital Dynamics will own the project with Sol Systems managing the asset throughout the agreement.

Construction will include approximately 29 acres of ground-mounted solar panels, and a connection to RG&E’s power lines on the south side of Penfield Road across from the site. The property was purchased by MCWA in 1993 with the intent to use it as a future reservoir site, and a portion of the property is currently used to stockpile soil from water main breaks and other projects. The solar array will not interfere with those activities and a future reservoir could still be planned in the future depending on system needs and growth.