SENECA – Anyone who has driven a stretch of Route 14A from Geneva to the hamlet of Hall has likely noticed the installation of solar panels over a large expanse of land for almost a year.
The completion of that work was unveiled on Thursday, when officials from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and a Massachusetts-based renewable energy company held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new community solar project in the town of Seneca.
“Making the benefits of solar energy accessible to everyone is at the heart of our mission as a company,” said Zaid Ashai, CEO of Nexamp.
The Boston-based company is a partner of NYSERDA and its “Solar for All” program (see box attached). The 20-acre site has approximately 13,000 solar panels and the 5.2 megawatt facility is capable of providing electricity to more than 700 homes.
Max Joel, team leader of NYSERDA’s NY-Sun program, said a significant portion of the electricity – up to 1 megawatt – is set aside to provide free solar subscriptions to low-income residents through Solar for All .
The community solar project, called Nexamp Seneca, is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal and proposes a mandate for 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. Nexamp Seneca was one of the nine projects awarded in the first round. of the Solar for All program.
Customers not eligible for Solar for All can still subscribe to the community solar project at solarforny.com. People are expected to save around 10 percent on their electricity costs over the life of the project, which will be around 20 years.
“Anyone who gets their electricity from New York State Electric & Gas can participate, not only in the Finger Lakes area but in other parts of the state,” said Joel.
Yushi Kawasumi, community and channel manager for Nexamp, said the company was founded around 10 years ago by veterans of the US military with a vision for energy independence.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen the potential of community solar power and made it our primary focus,” said Kawasumi, based in Binghamton. “We believe community solar will change the energy landscape in New York City and across the country. “
Kawasumi said Nexamp has another community solar project in Newfield, Tompkins County, and other projects are underway for other sites in upstate New York.
“Traditional solar projects, such as panels on a homeowner’s property or on rooftops, are not a viable option for everyone, such as tenants. It is also a significant financial commitment for the owners, ”he said. “Community solar energy overcomes all of these problems and makes solar energy accessible to everyone. “
Kawasumi and Joel said there is no cost to sign up for community solar power, no credit checks, and no long-term commitments. Subscribers can unsubscribe at any time.
Nexamp Seneca began operations about six weeks ago, after all panels were installed and hooked up to the NYSEG grid. Nexamp leases the property, which was fallow farmland, to an undisclosed landowner.
“This is an opportunity for farmers to get additional value on a small portion of their land, and the location here is ideal,” said Keith Hevenor, Nexamp’s director of communications. “This is close to the utility infrastructure, which is important for community solar. “