City of Buffalo seeks 32 solar power bids

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The City of Buffalo’s Mayor Byron Brown suggested that, “Buffalo will be a climate-refuge city” last week at the State of the City address per local reporting by WIVB.

Along with that sober proclamation, the city also announced via a request for projects (RFP) that it is seeking 20-year power purchase agreements from solar contractors for 32 city of Buffalo or Buffalo Sewer Authority properties. The city seeks a rate at a competitive cost when compared to its retail rates. Bid questions are to be submitted by March 5, with bids themselves being accepted starting on April 5, 2019 – and awards being announced, potentially, in May.

One of the parking garages (above) noted in the RFP (see Site Schedule below), that can hold a combination of carports and rooftop totaling just short of 500 kWdc.

Key documents from the RFP (all links are pdfs):

A layout of the largest site (below), Unity Island Landfill I, could field around 9.8 MWdc of LG 400 solar modules:

The city noted that this bid is part of a larger renewable energy initiative – Localizing Buffalo’s Renewable Energy Future – designed to “catalyze 100 megawatts of new clean energy”. That program, which submitted its own RFP on February 7, seeks onsite installations at each of the five partner institutions in the project: UB, SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY Erie, the City of Buffalo and Erie County. Students in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning previously identified 260 potential sites across Western New York, of which 83 were deemed viable.

Developers will need to put these projects online by December 31, 2020.

And some quick facts from the U.S. Department of Energy since everyone knows that central and south Buffalo gets serious “lake effect” snow:

  • Light snow has little impact on solar panels because it easily slides off.
  • Heavy snow can limit the amount of energy produced by solar panels, but light is still able to move through the snow and forward scattering brings more light to the solar cells than one might expect.
  • Even when solar panels are completely covered by snow, they can still generate electricity.
  • Heavy snowfall can present a problem when the weight of the snow places stress on a PV system’s support structure.
  • The anti-soiling properties of snow inherently make solar panels cleaner and able to reach higher efficiencies. That’s because any dirt on the glass will bond with the snow, washing it away when the sun melts it off.