Skidmore plans 8-acre solar array
School says panels could provide 12 percent of campus energy needs
Updated 10:25 a.m.
GREENFIELD Skidmore College would like to install 8 acres of solar panels on its property on Denton Road, creating a solar array that could be the largest in the area.
If approved and built, the 2.084-megawatt photovoltaic project would generate about 2.6 million kilowatt hours per year, which college spokeswoman Andrea Wise said is about 12 percent of the campus’ electricity needs.
The college would lease the land to two energy developers it is working with, Dynamic Energy Solutions and Community Energy Solar, then buy the electricity from them, Wise said. The college received a grant through the NY-Sun Initiative, a program Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched last year, to help fund the project.
The 6,950 solar panels would be situated on the rear portion of a 120-acre property at the corner of Denton and Bloomfield roads near the Saratoga Polo Association’s practice fields. The college also has a baseball field on the same property, on the Denton Road side.
The solar array would be close to the property line with Prestwick Chase retirement community to the west and would not be easily visible from Denton Road.
Skidmore has submitted a preliminary application to the town of Greenfield seeking to establish a planned unit development, a zoning designation that allows a developer and the town to create specialized zoning to accommodate a use that otherwise would not be allowed.
Last week, the Town Board referred the proposal to the Planning Board for review, the first step in an approval process that will include public hearings.
If the project is approved, it would be started this fall and finished in about six months, Wise said.
The 3-by-6-foot panels would be mounted on posts at an angle, so that the tops were 64 inches high, according to the application.
While in operation, the panels would generate sound that would measure 65 decibels at a distance of 15 feet, or the upper end of the range of normal conversation or laughter, the application states.
An 11-by-44-foot concrete pad proposed for the site would hold the inverters and transformers needed to harness the energy.
The energy generated by the panels would be equivalent to cutting out the greenhouse gases of 383 passenger vehicles, according to the college’s application to the town. It also would create enough electricity to power 2,600 average homes.
Solar power fits in with the college’s strategic plan, “which centers on preparing students to be responsible citizens capable of addressing issues of local, national and global concern,” Wise said in a news release. “By pursing a sustainable energy source, the college is modeling good citizenship and concern for the environment in dealing with an issue that crosses regional and national boundaries.”