Canandaigua Solar Project

Municipality: Canandaigua
County: Ontario County
Population: 10,001 to 50,000
Type: City

2017 Local Government Achievement Award WINNER (Second Place)

City Hall: (585) 396-5000

The Canandaigua Solar Project involved the conversion of an old landfill and transfer station into a renewable energy facility, which will reduce the city’s costs without impacting the services it provides to the community. At the same time the city fulfills a strategic plan goal of taking a leadership role by utilizing an alternative energy source and reducing the city's impact on the environment.

Upon the closing of the city transfer station and entering into a shared services agreement with the Town of Canandaigua to utilize the town's transfer station facility, the City of Canandaigua pursued the installation of a solar array on its old transfer station site. The city entered into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and site lease to purchase electricity from a large scale ground mounted solar electric array on the city's former transfer station property. To increase the benefits, the city also leased adjacent property to build a larger system. As a result, 13,200 REC Group 315W solar modules and 89 Chint Power Systems 36kW solar inverters were installed for a 4,125 kilowatt DC system.

The installation is expected to produce approximately 5,332,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year, which is equivalent to the yearly electricity usage of approximately 578 homes or the yearly greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 824 passenger vehicles. This translates into 94% of all kWh used for non-street lighting electricity used by the city, or 82% of the total electricity used by the city annually. Not only does this result in the city being more sustainable by utilizing a renewable energy source, the project is estimated to save the city approximately $3.5 million over the 25-year term of the PPA.

The solar arrays are owned and maintained by an investor group (RER Energy Group, New Energy Equity, AEP Onsite Partners). The investor group utilized a NYSERDA grant, State and federal tax credits and other tax benefits to help finance the $7 million project. At the end of the 25-year agreement, the city has the option of renewing an agreement, purchasing the array or having it removed at no cost to the city.