OLEAN – The Homeridae Solar Farm, a new 4,074-kilowatt solar system built on a privately owned brownfield at 231 Homer St., has been completed for operation, according to an announcement Wednesday from City of Olean Mayor William Aiello.
The electricity produced by the solar farm will be sold to the City, significantly reducing the cost of electric power purchases by the City of Olean, while also greatly improving the environmental stewardship of City government.
The old brownfield was a portion of a larger petroleum refinery and petroleum bulk storage facility, which operated from the late 1800’s until the 1950’s. The site and surrounding areas contained numerous above ground storage tanks and heavy industrial operations. New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) encourages the voluntary cleanup of contaminated properties known as “brownfields” so that they can be reused and redeveloped. The site was mitigated under New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) supervision and the addition of solar panels brings the property resoundingly into the 21st Century.
“Converting a brownfield to a solar farm is another example of Olean working towards making our city more sustainable,” said Mayor Aiello. “By using solar energy, we are decreasing the City’s electric bill and reducing the City’s carbon footprint. We see this as a win-win for our citizens and the environment.”
The solar project is financed by M&T Bank, and operated by New York-based BQ Energy Development LLC, which specializes in re-purposing brownfields and landfills nationwide for the production of renewable energy. Construction was completed in April.
“Renewable energy, particularly solar, represents a vital part of our energy future,” said Paul Curran, managing director of BQ Energy. “Installing solar on brownfields makes particularly good sense since the land has limited applications. This is the third project which BQ Energy has installed on brownfields in the City of Olean.”
Homeridae secured debt financing from NY Green Bank, a division of the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which provided a construction loan to complete the project. NY Green Bank is a $1 billion state-sponsored investment fund that invests in clean energy and sustainable infrastructure within New York State.
Alfred Griffin, President, NY Green Bank said, “We are very pleased to have financed the construction of five solar projects with BQ Energy and to enable a standardized, replicable approach to developing brownfield solar projects. As New York State’s solar market continues to grow, we look forward to building relationships with developers like BQ Energy and demonstrating competitive risk-return profiles of small scale solar projects to private capital providers.”
This project is also supported by NY-Sun, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Since 2011, solar in New York State has increased nearly 1,700 percent and leveraged nearly $3.8 billion in private investments, helping to support nearly 12,000 people engaged in solar jobs across New York.
Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “The responsible development of solar projects on brownfields and landfills help communities transform underutilized lands into an emission free, renewable energy resource while bringing local economic and environmental benefits. I congratulate the City of Olean and their partners on the completion of this project that will help lower energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint in support of Governor Cuomo’s fight against climate change.”
“The Homeridae project is the latest in a series of clean energy projects that we’ve supported in the City of Olean and represents the most recent step we’ve taken with New York State, local municipalities and customers toward creating a clean energy future,” said National Grid Jurisdiction Manager Paul Kazmierczak. “As we work on the next generation of sustainable solutions, we’ll do so by partnering and collaborating with companies like BQ Energy to leverage the latest in technology and new product innovations.”