October 9, 2014

Ithaca to Power One-Third of Government With Solar Panels

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By SLOANE GRINSPOON

Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca announced last month that they plan to install over 8,000 solar panels in the city, which will power approximately one-third of city and government operations in Ithaca.

The 2.4 million-watt generating solar panels will be constructed near the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, according to Tompkins County. The City of Ithaca will purchase the electricity and will benefit from the solar energy through a reduction in energy costs.

According to a press release, the Ithaca project is funded largely through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, with company SolarCity contracted to install the panels and run the solar power system.

SolarCity is America’s largest solar power provider, according to its website. The company harvests energy from the sun through solar panels, “revolutionizing the way energy is delivered by giving customers a cleaner, more affordable alternative to their monthly utility bill.”

“The project will help the City of Ithaca meet its energy use and greenhouse gas reduction goals,” Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said in the release.

According to Myrick, the City intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in government operations by 20 percent by 2016 and 80 percent by 2050.

The new development of solar panels in Ithaca comes on the heels of Cornell’s Snyder Road solar farm — the University’s first large-scale solar initiative — going live Sept. 19.

Cornell’s solar farm, also located near the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, is expected to produce 1 percent of the University’s electricity and will subsequently reduce the University’s carbon emissions by 0.5 percent.

Cornell, like the City of Ithaca, plans to reduce its carbon footprint, aiming to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050 for the Ithaca campus. The plans for achieving this reduction in carbon emissions are highlighted in Cornell’s Climate Action Plan.

“It is imperative that Cornell continue to work across campuses, sectors, and continents to meet the needs of society,” President David Skorton said. “Our Climate Action Plan builds on the progress we’ve already made and prepares us to do what the future demands: strive for climate neutrality, innovate, and lead the way to a cleaner, safer, more stable world.”

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