The Saranac Town Council is taking a closer look at how solar energy could benefit the municipality and its taxpayers.
The council approved a motion at its Sept. 26 meeting to allow Triangle Electrical Systems Inc., Plattsburgh, to proceed with a study of the town’s current electric usage to determine if solar power could be harnessed and purchased by the town at a cheaper rate than it currently pays, according to Councilman Gerald W. Delaney
“What this study is going to do is determined where our energy usage is, how it can be maximized and create the most savings for the town,” said Delaney.
The council was first approached by Greg Brienza of Triangle Electric Systems during the council’s Aug. 29 meeting. Brienza discussed the intention to conduct the study at no charge to the town.
Once agreed upon, the town was required to enter into a contract with Triangle, said Delaney. However, the contract does not commit the town to purchasing a solar panel system through the business, Delaney added.
“We’ve entered into a nonbinding contract with them that basically says he’ll do all the engineering work but we won’t turn around and take his work and give it to someone else to get a better deal,” said Delaney.
“We don’t have to buy anything,” the councilman added.
The study will begin in the coming weeks and is estimated to take about a month to complete, said Delaney.
Brienza stated some of the major factors that come into play when looking at a solar array system are the amount of space available and the project budget.
“We are approaching the project in Saranac as an opportunity to help the town save money on their bills while taking little to no risk,” said Brienza.
If the town was to move forward with a solar energy collection system, the system would likely be “static” or “non-tracking” because trackers are not rewarded for the extra output that they generate in New York yet, said Brienza.
:We hope to have some pictures in front of the town soon and a going forward plan to install as the weather and [the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority] permits,” said Brienza.
The NYSERDA make tax breaks and credits available to solar energy projects for private companies, though not municipalities such as the town of Saranac, said Delaney. The idea would be if the town were to contract with Triangle Electric for solar energy services, the rate would be lower based off the tax incentives the private business could get to provide the service.
“[Triangle Electric] would take care of the system. We would supply the piece of property for the array,” said Delaney.
Though the study is moving forward, Delaney emphasized no agreement is set in stone for the town to switch to solar power.
“The main driver of this will be if the town can save enough money for it to be a viable project,” said Delaney. “We haven’t come up with any numbers yet. That’s what this study will do.”