VSConstruction of what is described as Westchester County’s largest municipal solar power facility has been completed. The system is spread across nine sites owned by the City of White Plains. It is designed to produce 8,100 megawatt hours of electricity each year. A megawatt-hour is one million watts of electricity generated over a one-hour period. One million watts is enough to light over 9,000 standard 100 watt light bulbs in a 110 volt system.
The system was built by Schenectady-based Distributed Solar Development (DSD), which the city selected after sending out a request for proposals (RFP) to about 100 solar contractors. The RFP was prepared by the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) with cooperation from the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which has its administrative offices in White Plains. The city’s DPW commissioner at the time, Rick Hope, described DSD as being a “spin-off” of GE Solar.
The city says the amount of electricity to be generated is enough to power more than 700 homes each year.
The nine solar projects include a mix of canopy, rooftop and ground installations in four parking garages, the Ebersole Ice Rink, the Gedney Way Recycling Yard, Gillie Park, the City Water Department and the Brockway Place DPW site.
At the start of the project, White Plains Mayor Tom Roach told the Business Journals that the city would receive about $1 million a year in rental revenue from the space occupied by the solar sites and would have no costs associated with these.
Upon completion of the build, Roach said, “We are in a climate crisis and are compelled to recognize the urgency and take deliberate action to build a sustainable and resilient planet. The City of White Plains will continue to be a leader in sustainability by investing in and implementing renewable energy initiatives that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Justin E. Driscoll, Interim President and CEO of NYPA, said, “The New York Power Authority is thrilled to have played a key role in helping the City of White Plains create a unique and extensive portfolio of solar systems. and storage that provide renewable energy. to reduce the region’s carbon footprint. As Westchester County’s commercial hub, White Plains sets an example for other communities looking to develop alternative clean energy options. Hopefully other municipalities will follow suit and help our state advance its bold climate action goals.
David Eisenbud, Senior Director of Organization at DSD, had pointed out that two-thirds of White Plains sites consist of garage roof and surface parking systems.
“This is a specialized application pioneered by DSD,” Eisenbud said. “It will help transform the city. DSD has doubled the planned capacity of city parking lots with our proprietary solar canopy designs. »
He said awnings over parking areas will do more than just provide a platform for solar panels; they will protect people and vehicles from rain and snow while enhancing the downtown experience for visitors.
After the project’s completion, Eisenbud said, “This unique portfolio positions the city as a leader in solar energy adoption and shows other communities what is possible when it comes to clean energy.”
Some of the solar installations have incorporated infrastructure improvements, such as a new roof for the Ebersole ice rink and a storage area for the water utility. Awnings at some venues have a proprietary built-in water management system to manage runoff water from rain and melting snow. The solar field at the Gedney Recycling Facility features the world’s first floating foundation canopy mounted on a landfill cover. Additionally, two awning systems on site incorporate sidewalls to store and protect city equipment. In construction, a floating foundation does not use footings. It is a slab with edges that drop to just below the frost line. This type of foundation is capable of shifting when temperatures cause the soil to compact and expand.
City officials and the DSD had said they expected the solar system to not only reduce reliance on fossil fuels for power generation, but also produce environmental benefits equivalent to removing about 1 300 cars off the road or planting 101,000 new trees in White Plains.