Development underway for Empire State Plaza solar project says New York Power Authority

The Office of General Services (OGS) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have selected a developer for several remote solar arrays in Oneida County that will provide Empire State Plaza in Albany with up to half of its electricity needs. The solar arrays are part of a comprehensive energy efficiency and resiliency upgrade plan for the Empire State Plaza, advancing progress in the state’s goal of 100 percent of the electric generation to be renewable energy by 2040.

OGS and NYPA have selected DG Development & Acquisitions, an Albany-based subsidiary of NextEra to develop over 30 MW of solar generation on state-owned land near the former Oneida County airport in Oriskany. The power will benefit the state and provide significant power to Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany.

The development of the arrays, which are currently in design, calls for the deployment of seven solar arrays spread across approximately 150 acres of land. The installation of the solar arrays is expected to begin in 2022 and complete in 2023.

Background: In September 2019, NYPA and OGS completed an evaluation of energy options for Empire State Plaza through a series of technical reviews, community listening sessions, and meetings with neighborhood associations. The developed comprehensive plan is now well underway:

  • Construction is underway on a nearly $30 million electrification upgrade to one of the on-site steam-driven chillers to reduce local gas use and emissions by 18 percent. The project is expected to complete next year.
  • Implementation is in progress on the $60 million replacement of the existing on-site emergency generators with state-of-the-art efficient, low-emission and low-noise units. Completion of the project is expected within the next two years.
  • Over $16 million in LED lighting fixtures are being installed throughout the entire plaza complex to reduce energy use and statewide greenhouse gas emissions. The project is expected to complete in early 2023.
  • The old, out-of-use steel smokestack at the former ANSWERS plant has been demolished.

Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, said, “The development of this massive solar project in Oriskany will be the largest concentration of distributed-scale solar generation in New York State, providing a significant benefit to the state and the Empire State Plaza in Albany. This project is a critical component of the comprehensive plan by OGS and NYPA to greatly improve reliability, resiliency and sustainability at the plaza.”

“Working closely with our partners at NYPA, the OGS team has already removed the smokestack from the former ANSWERS facility in Albany’s Sheridan Hollow neighborhood. We are also upgrading one of the Empire State Plaza’s steam-driven chillers and our emergency generators and have expanded our LED lighting program,” said OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito. “This solar project further demonstrates our commitment to climate leadership in New York State.”

As OGS and NYPA continue to align operations at the plaza with the state’s long-term climate and environmental goals, rapid advancements in technology must be considered. The audit will aid the state in determining the benefit and feasibility of introducing existing and new innovations at a facility that is nearly 60 years old. The planning will include analysis and consideration of the impacts of the current and future utility operations of the plaza on the local and state community.

OGS and NYPA also have plans to begin a comprehensive energy audit of the plaza to determine what further actions and projects should be pursued.

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