The villages of Brockport, Lima and Sodus Point switched to solar energy in 2019, allowing the reallocation of funds previously budgeted for rising municipal electric bills.
GreenSpark Solar, a renewable energy company in Ontario, installed nearly 2 megawatts of solar energy for the three villages in partnership with Kendall Sustainable Infrastructure.
“It is a great privilege to work with our local municipal leaders who take meaningful action to address the carbon footprint of our communities,” said Kevin Schulte, CEO of GreenSpark Solar. “Solar is a better, cheaper alternative to purchasing utility power and it requires great local leaders to have the foresight to bring these projects to fruition. These three solar projects represent the opportunity for every municipality in New York to go solar, in an effort to think globally and act locally.”
Mayor Margaret Blackman championed the village of Brockport’s project. Blackman started the process of going solar years ago, but it wasn’t until 2018 that she put pen to paper with GreenSpark to move forward with a 650-kilowatt project at the village’s capped landfill.
Brockport is expected to save more than $300,000 through the 25-year warranty of the solar array, and even more beyond that time. The first year of operation will see nearly $15,000 of savings. The project went live in December 2019.
“We were very happy that we could include our tri-municipal library and the Brockport Fire District on our solar array,” Blackman said. “We look forward to offering community-distributed generation to Brockport residents in the future and completing the buyback of over 400 street lights, which will all be outfitted with LED lights to save even more.”
By mid-December, the village of Lima solar project had started delivering solar energy to the power grid from the 450kW solar array on West Main Street behind the Lima Ambulance Bass.
The solar array consists of 1,300 solar panels and is expected to supply 100% of the electrical energy needs of all village-owned facilities. Over the life of the solar array, which comes with a 25-year warranty, the village is expected to see over $300,000 in energy savings.
The village of Sodus Point’s solar array was the final of the three to go live, producing power on the final day of the decade. The 675kW solar array is split, 40% of which powers households in Greater Rochester through community-distributed generation, also known as community solar. The remaining 60% — 270kW — is allocated for the village’s municipal facilities resulting in an expected savings of at least $80,000 in the first 20 years.
The design, development and construction of the projects was made possible by a power purchase agreement between the villages and KSI, which provided the funds for GreenSpark to design and build the projects. With KSI as the owner of the solar arrays, the villages were able to receive the benefits of solar energy with $0 capital investment. The municipalities agreed to lease the land used for the projects and will purchase the energy produced by the solar array at an established price for 20-25 years.
“One of our specialties is providing the capital that allows municipalities to participate in solar, with no money down, and in a way that actually reduces their operating costs,” said John Chaimanis, managing director of KSI.
GreenSpark applied for and received grants on behalf of all three villages separately through the NY-Sun Initiative, which is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Celebrations and ribbon-cuttings for the solar arrays are planned for later this year. GreenSpark, KSI and the village of Brockport will celebrate its now solar-powered library this spring. The village of Sodus Point will celebrate its solar array during pollinator week at the end of June after planting pollinator-friendly habitats in and around the array.