It has been a busy week at NYSUT headquarters in Latham as workers hoist, lift and lay down hundreds of silky-blue solar panels on the roofs of the building at 800 Troy-Schenectady Road. With 671 solar panels, it is the largest system that can be installed at the site.
Monolith Solar is supplying all the investment capital for the projects in partnership with the New York State Energy, Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
"Once installed, NYSUT earns 25% of the energy generated by each system as a reduction in our energy bills," said Robert Lesniewski, NYSUT director of finance and administration overseeing the project.
By Labor Day, systems should also be installed and operating in NYSUT regional offices in Buffalo and Syracuse. Potsdam and Vestal offices had pilot systems installed last year and have been operating ever since.
"We expect the Rochester regional office to be installed this fall, and are awaiting approval from NYSERDA on the Utica and Kingston regional offices, which will be installed within several months after approval is granted," Lesniewski said. "Once all systems are operational, NYSUT’s solar systems at all properties will generate about 750kw of power or 20 percent of total usage."
The panels at headquarters were lifted to the roof this week by crane and unloaded. They are now bracketed to the roof in uniform rows, tilting up toward the sun to receive its power.
"At headquarters, we don’t foresee generating enough power to source the whole building, but we will save money. This is the largest system we can install and a healthy savings will be realized," said Tim DeLollo, NYSUT facilities manager.
The new solar panel system is designed to produce 205KW of electricity at the Latham location.
The solar projects will not only reduce expenses, they will help the environment by reducing the amount of electricity needed. Solar energy is a clean, renewable energy, as opposed to the use of fossil fuels, which are expensive and are being depleted in this country. Installing solar panels is also a job that cannot be outsourced, so it generates jobs in this country.
On a scientific level, the solar panels provide abundant teaching opportunities. The solar panels are photovoltaic. They contain silicon crystals which turn sunlight into a current. An inverter is used to change that energy from DC to AC, which powers electrical items in a home or workplace.
A solar system uses the solar energy first for power demands; if there is more demand than it has available, then the remainder of the power comes from the electric network.