Story by Katie Krahulik
An official first dig on Wed., Jul. 12 kicked off a project that will result in the largest school district owned solar project in New York State in the fields of the Sanfordville Elementary School, located at 144 Sanfordville Rd. in Warwick.
The Warwick Valley Central School District Board of Education approved of plans two years ago to construct a solar field spanning across ten acres of the Sanfordville campus.
By generating energy from the sun and feeding into the local power grid, this new solar structure will result in a substantial amount of energy conservation throughout Warwick. Construction will begin this summer and is anticipated to last roughly three months.
Warwick Valley School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach explained that the solar plant is projected to provide nearly 100 percent of the District’s electric needs.
“Because the solar project began a few years ago, it received ‘grandfather” status’, allowing the District to lock in favorable rates set by New York State law,” said Dr. Leach. “Through net metering credits for the energy, the School District will save approximately $250,000 a year in energy costs.”
The solar project includes an eighteen year maintenance agreement with Con Ed Solutions to monitor the solar field in case something goes wrong. The $5.7 million project will pay for itself in 11.4 years.
Several project coordinators and community leaders gathered at the site located on Sanfordville Elementary School’s grounds to celebrate the new initiative.
Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard accredited the Warwick Valley Central School District, especially, in the development of this new solar addition.
“The School District has been a leader and, to me, that leadership has this tremendous ripple effect because it touches tomorrow’s leaders. Having a program like this will leave such an impression on our youth that will be so everlasting,” said Mayor Newhard.
Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton explained the power of cooperation between different groups and municipalities. The result, as many saw Wednesday, is great reward for the community.
“I would say over the past five or six years or so, the School District and the Town and the Village have just worked so closely together on issues, and they kept us as part of this process from the beginning,” said Supervisor Sweeton. “We are proud that we are partners with you and happy to support you in all these endeavors.”
From Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, Assistant Director Houtan Moaveni of New York-Sun, Governor Cuomo’s one billion dollar initiative to build this self-sustaining solar industry in New York State, spoke on behalf of the state. After congratulating the community on the project and sharing statistics outlining the national rise in solar usage, Moaveni commended the grassroots work of local administrations.
“We need our communities, we need our school districts, we need our residents in Warwick to help us meet our clean energy and environmental goals,” said Moaveni.