Proposed plans brighten Hudson’s solar prospects

HUDSON — The city’s Conservation Advisory Council is considering supporting two plans to bring high-efficiency solar modules to the city of Hudson.

In the long-term, this plan could cut the city’s electricity costs by roughly $60,000 a year, savings that could be reinvested into the city’s budget to potentially fix ageing infrastructure.

Third ward Councilmember Ryan Wallace presented the elements of two plans by the company SunCommon to bring solar panels to Hudson.

SunCommon, the Hudson Valley’s largest solar installer, has the ability to bring solar modules to two locations in the city for a rough estimated cost of about $1 million, according to prevailing wage estimates. Prevailing wage is the pay rate set by law for work on public work projects.

The proposed locations are the roof of an old bus garage at 4 Dock St. and the roof and ground space on Rossman Avenue, near a reservoir.

In the past, the Conservation Advisory Council expressed the possibility of bringing solar panels to the roofs of city government buildings. But, with the decline of many city-owned buildings’ infrastructure, the roof at City Hall having to be fixed a recent example of this, the plans were ultimately paused.

However, the prospect of bringing solar to the city is still a desire of the Conservation Advisory Council.

The scope of the SunCommon preliminary proposal would include the designing and engineering of the solar project, the obtaining of necessary certificates of compliance, procuring the equipment of the project, and installing the solar panels.

“I wanted to get the Conservation Advisory Council’s feedback,” Wallace said. “If we can’t get a grant for it, the city would look at bonding.”

It is likely that the Conservation Advisory Council will draft a letter in support of the plan to bring solar to the city. Wallace will then go to Superintendent of the city’s Department of Public Works Rob Perry to make sure he is aligned with the plan.

Perry said Thursday he has no opinion on the matter.

Mayor Kamal Johnson is in favor of the proposals.

“This is the right direction for a climate-smart city,” he said. “Not only is solar energy efficient but it will save our city money in the long run.”

A request for proposal will be issued to get additional bids from other solar companies to ensure the city is getting a fair price.

Solar panels are an environmentally sustainable alternative to producing electricity with zero greenhouse gas emissions. Another aspect that makes solar attractive to Hudson is that there is a great return on investment. Even though the upfront cost is high, the long-term return is high.

“Even with prevailing wage, no tax incentives, a low value stack estimation and no inflation calculated, these projects would pay for themselves before year 20, which is way quicker than the city would pay off National Grid,” Wallace said.

This is not the first time the idea of solar panels to offset the city’s electricity costs has arisen. In late November of 2021, the Common Council had three developers interested in building a solar farm in the city. The developers suggested using the city’s capped landfill, which drew criticism from the Conservation Advisory Council on the grounds that the solar farm would be taking away too much open space in an ever industrializing city.

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Author: systems