Carmel Town Hall will be getting a breathe of fresh air come the installation of photovoltaic cells to the building’s rooftop.
This past Wednesday, the board unanimously passed a resolution to name Lighthouse Solar of New Paltz, N.Y. as the lowest responsible bidder in the installation of photovoltaic solar panels to town hall. The installation will cost $99,101, but according to Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt, it will come at no additional cost to taxpayers.
“The monies that are being appropriated for this came from a settlement of litigation between New York Power Authority and oil companies—this money is not coming out of any taxpayer’s pockets, whatsoever,” Schmitt said. “I know some grant money comes from the state, that’s all coming from taxpayers dollars usually from the state level. This project uses no taxpayer money at all from the state or local level.”
Though the town is required to maintain the cells throughout their lifetime, Schmitt said that the panels would save Carmel Town Hall between $5,000 and $6,000 annually in regards to electric and utility bills.
The cells also have the ability to store power when the building is closed and not in use.
“The system has the capability of storing electricity when the building is not open, so when we’re not here on the weekends these solar panels are still working,” Schmitt said. “We have the ability to sell the stored electric back to the grid, and we can actually sell power back to NYSEG.”
The idea to install the solar panels to the building bloomed after the town’s engineering project coordinator, Robert Vara, approached Schmitt about implementing an alternative form of energy into town hall’s electric system.
“Vara came to me about a year or so ago with the idea of putting photovoltaic cells on the roof of town hall and I said ‘Robert, I think it’s a great idea, but how are we going to pay for it?’” Schmitt said. “He said ‘I’ll find the money, I’m going to write a grant’ and to his credit, he wrote a grant to the New York Power Authority.”
The New York Power Authority is the United States’ largest state power organization. In an effort to shift from oil and other types of fuel, the organization prides itself as “being a national leader in promoting energy efficiency, the development of clean energy technologies and electric vehicles.”
“This is a great system, it’s actually saving the environment as well because our carbon foot is reduced,” Schmitt said. “It shows that we’re using the sun and we’re not using any other means of fuel for electricity—the fact that it’s not costing us any money is the best part.”