Amherst (N.Y.) solar farm supplies clean energy to lower income residents

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A 6.4 megawatt solar farm that recently opened at 595 Schoelles Road in Amherst is designed to provide clean electricity to low-to-middle income residents, on behalf of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. This solar farm will serve 1,300 housing units overall.

This project, that took nine months to build, is a part of the New York community solar program and was developed by Catalyze, a clean energy transition company that finances, builds, owns and operates solar, battery storage and electric vehicle charging systems for commercial and industrial customers.

“It’s a zero emissions asset, so there’s no carbon production from the solar farm. It’s a clean energy source,” said Terrill Laughton, chief communication officer for Catalyze.

This project also helps the Town of Amherst fulfill its role as NYSERDA Clean Energy Community by contributing to the state’s goals for solar generation as well as benefiting low- and middle-income residents.

“People who sign up for the community solar program, they’re going to get a 10% discount on their kilowatt-hour charge. So, they’re going to save money on their electric bills,” said Laughton.

It also helps Amherst residents claim the benefits of a clean energy economy.

New York state is estimating to have six gigawatts of distributed solar energy by 2025, 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 40% of clean energy benefiting disadvantaged communities.

The solar farm will also include sheep that will maintain the vegetation during the grazing season. According to Laughton, this was an aspect that the Town of Amherst requested and it brings in a new source of revenue for the landowner as well as have very little negative impact on the environment.

Laughton said that in addition to this 6.4 megawatt solar farm, Catalyze also has over 200 megawatts of potential solar farm projects just in New York State alone that the company is reviewing in their analysis and development department.

Catalyze deals with community solar projects where all electricity produced goes directly on to the grid. They also work with many commercial and industrial customers where electricity is consumed where it is generated versus going right onto the grid.

“We design, build, own, operate and maintain these assets. It’s our money that is being put at risk and at stake and we don’t get paid unless these assets produce right,” said Laughton. “So we have a long-term vested interest in maintaining these assets and ensuring they’re producing for their entire lifetime.”

Source: Amherst Bee

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