Grand Island is going solar in a big way

Jun 22, 2017

Grand Island soon will be home to the largest community solar installation in New York state. The $7 million project was recently unanimously approved by the Town Board.

Credit blueRock

The installation will include about 12,000 solar panels on a site along Bedell Road - just off the I-190. Grand Island Supervisor, Nate McMurray says, he ran for office vowing to seek out the technology.

Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray

"This is the place where we had some of the major breakthroughs in electricity period. With Tesla and his early experiments in Western New York. And we should draw upon that history to look at the next forms of technology," McMurray said.   

And it will be located, he says, on industrial land that's been vacant for generations.  
"So to actually have a real project there. I mean people forget that solar today is one of the biggest employers in the energy industry. It's growing. And it's employing more and more people. So it's exciting that we're taking advantage of that," McMurray said.

One of the project developers is Syracuse based BlueRock Solar. Company General Manager, Michael Francis says, community solar's designed for the large percentage of people who want to go green but lack the means to make the switch.

Credit blueRock

"Be it they live in an apartment. Or they don't own their own real estate. Maybe they have a house that does not have conditions that are suitable for solar. Or maybe they don't have the financial capability to invest in a system," Francis said.   

Grand Island community solar, Francis says, will power about 400 homes and businesses. And there will be no up-front costs. He says it will be pay-as-you-go.
"We're not running a some type of line from the solar farm to your house. You're still getting electricity in the same way that you would otherwise. You're just getting bill credits. And these bill credits are able to offset both the supply and the delivery portion of your bill," Francis said.  

He expects the solar project to be operational by the end of the year.