Sol Systems develops bifacial, single-axis tracking solar project with pollinator habitat


The Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA) project spans 29 acres and is one of the first in New York State to use bifacial solar modules and single axis tracking. For added sustainability, the site was planted with a seed mixture of pollinator plants, which will create new habitats for local pollinators, boosting the surrounding ecosystem.

The array, part of the Water Authority’s long-term goal to reduce energy expenses, is expected to generate 8 GW hours of electricity per year, which represents more than 15% of MCWA’s energy needs for water pumping and treatment.

“Reliably providing quality, affordable water is our top priority. MCWA should realize substantial savings over the course of this 25-year contract, helping keep water rates affordable,” said Nick Noce, MCWA executive director. “Beyond the financial benefits of the solar array, utilizing sustainable, clean energy is a significant step forward in our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

Sol Systems was selected through a competitive bidding process led by NYPA to install and operate the solar array at no expense to the Water Authority. In return, the kilowatt hours of energy produced by the panels are delivered to Rochester Gas & Electric and a percentage is credited to MCWA on its energy bills. The project also qualified for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) solar energy incentive, which will pay nearly $1 million toward the project over the first two years of operation.

“The New York Power Authority is pleased to have played an energy advisor role for the Water Authority to help make this unique solar project happen in Monroe County,” said Justin E. Driscoll, NYPA’s interim president and CEO. “This prudent use of Water Authority land will make a new source of clean power available to the Water Authority. Monroe County residents and New Yorkers as a whole will benefit from further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which supports the state’s ambitious clean energy goals. We commend the Water Authority’s dedication to this clean energy project, even amidst the challenges that we faced together during the pandemic and over the last few years.”

The Water Authority’s new system will generate electricity to help support New York’s clean energy goals of achieving 70% renewables-sourced electricity by 2030 and a 100% carbon-free electricity sector by 2040. The state intends to build at least 10 GW of distributed solar by 2030, enough to annually power nearly 700,000 homes.

“The economic and sustainable benefits of this project will be felt for years to come, and we are proud to have had such committed partners in MCWA and NYPA,” said Anna Toenjes, Sol Systems’ senior director. “In addition to providing clean energy and cost savings, the project’s pollinator habitat will provide decades of positive impact to the local ecosystem.”

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