New York’s Capital Region is getting a major new community solar farm. A community solar farm is a solar power installation whose output is shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. The primary purpose of community solar is to allow members of a community to have the benefits of solar power even if they cannot or prefer not to install solar panels on their own property.
US Light Energy has broken ground on the Sugar Hill Solar Farm, to be located on 40 acres of land on the Sugar-Hill/Sugar-View Farm in Clifton Park. The 7-megawatt, ground-mounted solar project will include nearly 20,000 solar modules. When fully operational later this year, the facility is expected to produce more than 8.6 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year.
The farm will be part of New York state’s Community Solar Program, and the electricity it generates can be supplied to customers anywhere in National Grid’s existing distribution system. Residential and commercial properties in Clifton Park will have 30 days to subscribe before the solar energy generated by the farm is opened to the general public. Subscribers of community solar farms typically save 10% on their electricity bills.
There are already community solar programs in operation in several Capital Region communities, but this is the first one in the Clifton Park Area. Apart from providing savings on utility bills, community solar allows consumers to support clean, locally generated power with little or no upfront costs. Not everyone is in a position to put solar panels on their roof, but community solar is increasingly an option for New York residents.
Photo, posted March 19, 2012, courtesy of Kate Ausburn via Flickr.