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Source: The Buffalo News

Power Authority unveils solar initiative

BY AARON BESECKER
NEWS NIAGARA REPORTER

Posted: January 28, 2010
Originally Published: January 28, 2010

Richard Kessel speaks with Brian Smith, Russ Pettrozzi, and Paul Dyster looking on.

New York Power Authority President and CEO Richard M. Kessel, right, speaks during a news conference about solar energy today at Niagara Falls High School. Joining him, from left, are Brian Smith of Citizen's Campaign for the Environment; Russ Pettrozzi, president of the Board of Education; and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.

NIAGARA FALLS — Enough electricity to power about 15,000 homes is expected to be produced by the end of 2014 through a new statewide solar power initiative, the New York Power Authority has announced.

The authority has issued a request for proposals to companies who would install solar power generating equipment, focusing on locations including the rooftops of schools and other public buildings.

Under the proposal, a total of 100 megawatts of power would be generated, with the goal of construction on some projects beginning by the end of this year.

The initiative, unveiled by the Authority on Wednesday, will put the state "in the forefront as one of the leaders in photovoltaics and solar technology," authority President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel said this morning during a news conference at Niagara Falls High School.

Kessel called the proposal, "the largest solar initiative in the history of the state of New York."

The authority already has received about 60 expressions of interest from sites interested in hosting part of the project through its Web site since Wednesday, he said.

Bids are due to the authority by April 9.

The state currently produces about 20 megawatts of electricity through solar means.

Kessel promised that up to 25 percent of the projects would be installed in Western New York.

He also said the initiative has the potential to create thousands of jobs across the state.

Brian Smith, regional program director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, called the authority's announcement  "an important step" toward building a clean energy future for the area.

The Power Authority is soliciting proposals from developers to install, own and operate the solar arrays, and to sell all the energy and environmental attributes to authority subject to a 20-year power purchase agreement. The authority will then enter into contracts with the project hosts, such as the school where the an array is located, for the distribution of green power.

The RFP calls for bids are related to four separate categories and five regions. Bidders can submit proposals for one or more regions in one or more categories. The categories include: government facilities, including public colleges and universities; public and private K-12 schools; and parking lot canopies at any governmental, educational facilities and facilities in the municipal and rural cooperative territories. The regions are Western New York, Northern New York, Central New York, Southeast New York and New York City.