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March 6, 2008

DiNapoli: Solar Power Can Save Local Governments Money

Six municipalities in New York State could save nearly a million dollars in energy costs by relying on solar power, according to an audit released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit also found that these local governments could reduce air pollution by millions of pounds over the life of the panels.

“With the rising cost and dwindling quantity of fossil fuels, along with the toll on the environment and public health, it makes sense to promote the use of renewable and clean energy sources,” said DiNapoli. “Local governments can realize financial savings by utilizing solar power and taking advantage of state programs that provide important support.”

Auditors evaluated the use of solar power by Albany County, the Ulster County towns of Woodstock and Rosendale, the Ulster County Village of New Paltz, the Nassau County Town of Hempstead, and the Tompkins County Town of Lansing. These municipalities received financial and technical assistance from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) for their programs.

The audit, which was conducted for the period January 2003 to July 2007, found that by installing solar panel electrical systems, these municipalities realized immediate savings on their electrical bills, and reduced environmental emissions. They could also save as much as $944,000 and reduce the release of greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 6.6 million pounds over the life of the panels, which is estimated to range from 40 to 50 years. With NYSERDA’s assistance, the municipalities paid about 27 percent of the total project costs. There is currently funding available through NYSERDA for this purpose and municipalities should contact that agency for more information.

DiNapoli’s report noted that from 1994 to 2005, United States electricity usage has increased by 24 percent, and emissions have jumped by 22 percent. The National Academy of Sciences has confirmed that the burning of fossil fuels is directly to blame for global warming and climate change. The cost of electricity is one of the biggest expenditures for local governments today.

Click here for a copy of the report.

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