Just in time for Earth Week, Larchmont Village finished the installation of a 6.4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof of its Department of Public Works building at 2015 Boston Post Road. This marks the first public building in Larchmont to acquire solar panels.
At almost the same time, a Larchmont residence was getting its own set of solar panels.
Village Yard Goes Solar
The new panels fit into a larger environmental agenda. “We are committed to reducing the Village’s carbon emissions by 20% by 2015,” said Mayor Liz Feld, ”And this solar energy system is just one of the many initiatives we plan to undertake to achieve our environmental goals.”
“This was a freebie for us,” said Trustee Anne McAndrews, who was responsible for getting the New York State Power Authority to fund the solar panels at the Village Yard.
New Rochelle-based Mercury Solar Systems and the New York Power Authority handled the installation and had the panels on the roof in December. Then Con-Edison completed the final inspection in April.
”We are honored to be able to work with the Village on this important environmental initiative,” said Anthony Coschigano III, head of operations at Mercury Solar Systems and a Larchmont resident.
Larchmont’s panels are expected to generate up to 7,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and will prevent the emission of 4.5 tons of carbon dioxide. This is enough power to supply two homes, based on national averages. It will meet the needs of the DPW building and also charge the GEM eL, Larchmont’s new electric vehicle.
Rich Vetere, the DPW’s general foreman, confirmed on Thursday, May 7 that the panels were supplying electricity – despite the recent lack of sun. Since mid-April, the system had already produced 1,135 kilowatts of electicity, he said. That’s the equivelent of removing 1,931 pounds of carbon dioxide from the environment.
“It’s a start,” said Mr. Vetere. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
“The interest level and demand for solar continues to increase as municipalities, commercial and residential customers look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and electricity costs,” said
How It Works
Solar panels are made up of multiple silicon based solar cells that turn sunlight into direct current, or DC electricity. The electricity flows into an inverter that converts it into alternating current, or AC electricity. This is tied to a main electric meter so it can be used in a standard outlet.
The Larchmont system contains two inverters and thirty-three 195-watt modules or solar panels on the roof.
The utility installed a new net-meter that will (figuratively – it’s digital) spin backwards when the panels generate more power than is being consumed. When there’s no sun shining on the panels, the system automatically draws power from the utility, and the meter begins spinning forward again.
Federal and State Incentives Fueling Solar Interest – in Larchmont and Across Westchester
Solar energy systems have been growing in popularity the past several years, especially in Westchester, as the cost of electricity continues to increase. Last month, State regulators approved a $523.4 million, one-year increase in Consolidated Edison’s rates, translating to a 6.1 percent increase for local consumers. This latest increase came just one year after regulators approved a $425 million increase in 2008.
The Federal Grant Program for Renewable Energy Projects formed under President Obama’s economic stimulus plan is also expected to continue to drive interest in solar. Mercury Solar Systems reported their call volume has increased over 400% since February as a result.
Under this new program, customers have access to federal cash rebates or credits on top of state incentives. For a $40,000 system, the average cost of a residential solar system, this would translate into a net cost of $9,000 after incentives under the president’s new plan. In January, under a less generous program, the same system would have cost $13,000.
Larchmont residents Sally Maca and Alex Alimanestianu realized solar was an option in this area after reading a Gazette article from 2005, Rockwood Home Goes Solar – A Larchmont First.
Mercury Solar Systems finished installing solar panels on the roof of their home at 27 Lincoln Street a few weeks ago. Their system qualified for a 2008 NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) rebate in addition to a 30% federal tax credit for 2009 – which roughly cut their cost in half.
The panels are invisible from the front of their Tudor style home. And, in any case, “my neighbors were really supportive,” said Ms. Maca.