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Courtesy of Rob Way

May 6, 2016

Cornell Sutton Road Solar Farm Opens

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The Sutton Road Solar Farm — Cornell’s second megawatt solar project, located off of Sutton Road in Geneva, New York — is now fully operational, according to a University press release.

The new farm is part of a larger Climate Action Plan goal of supplying all of the University’s electricity with renewables, according to Sarah Zemanick, director of the Campus Sustainability Office.

The two-megawatt station will offset almost 40 percent of the annual electricity demand at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, the release said. Construction of the 17-acre solar farm began last spring.

The University built its first 11-acre solar farm in September of 2014, and together the two facilities will annually produce approximately 5,700 megawatt hours of electricity.

Beth Ahner, senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said she is proud of the beneficial addition to Cornell’s solar energy initiatives.

“For more than a century, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has been dedicated to sustainable innovation for the public good,” Ahner said. “We are very proud to add the Sutton Road Solar Farm to Cornell’s portfolio of sustainability initiatives and contribute to reducing the University’s carbon footprint.”

Susan Brown, Goichman Family Director of the NYSAES, said she believes the project is an advantageous step for NYSAES.

“A lot of research that we do involves harvesting light,” Brown said. “You need to harness light in order to get better quality fruits and vegetables, so it really is fitting that we’re harvesting light to cut our energy bills.”

The solar farm project is not the only NYSAES program designed for energy efficiency, according to Brown.

“Dr. Larry Smart heads the willow breeding project in which willow bark is harvested, dried, and the chips used as a form of renewable energy,” Brown said. “We heat some of our farm buildings with the photo chips. Together, these are two of the ways that we are trying to be responsive.”

This project, along with three ongoing energy-efficiency projects, was made possible by leveraging the federal tax credit and obtaining NY state subsidies and NY’s remote net metering tariff, according to Sarah Zemanick.

“The existence of all three of these things allowed us to procure renewable electricity for about the same cost as we would pay for grid power,” Zemanick said.

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