The Wayne County town of Williamson could begin powering its municipal buildings almost entirely with solar energy as early as the fall.
The electricity will come from a 1.5 megawatt solar farm, which will be built on the closed Williamson landfill. Compared to the 580 megawatt Ginna nuclear plant, the generation capacity is small. But it'll be much more powerful than smaller home systems, which often have capacities of a few kilowatts.
Williamson won't own the solar facility at first, but will have the option to buy it six years after it comes online. For the time being, it'll buy the electricity under a 25-year contract with plant owner Distributed Sun, of Washington, D.C.
"It's renewable, clean energy and it has some savings to us," says Supervisor Jim Hoffman says. He estimates the savings at about $1.5 million over 20 years.
Williamson may be the first government in the state to get nearly all of its power from a single solar farm, says Hoffman, who's also chair of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors. Williamson has smaller solar arrays providing power for its Town Hall and its waste water treatment plant, he says.
Sustainable Energy Development, which is based out of Ontario in Wayne County, will build the solar farm. Company representatives say they should start construction work this summer. Currently, they're finalizing agreements with Rochester Gas and Electric as well as the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The solar panels will produce about 1.75 million kilowatt hours a year, which is enough to cover close to all of the town government's electric consumption, says Kevin Schulte, the founder and CEO of Sustainable Energy Development.