Friday, August 01, 2014

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Solar panels go up on Tompkins County buildings

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Solar panels go up on Tompkins County buildings
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Tompkins County planners are leading the way toward renewable energy by installing solar panels on county buildings. Tamara Lindstrom has more on the benefits taxpayers will see, and how the county is making the project happen.

TOMPKINS COUNTY -- It may sound like a lofty goal.

"We're trying to transition to renewable energy as county policy, to reduce our carbon footprint as a county government. So we're looking at all options," said Ed Marx, Planning and Sustainability Commissioner for Tompkins County.

Tompkins County leaders are taking a solid step toward sustainable energy by putting solar panels on county buildings.

The solar panels are being installed on seven county buildings and will save about $13,000 per year on energy costs. It's a project the county can afford because they are leasing the solar panels, rather than buying them. The American-made panels are being provided by Solar Liberty in Buffalo.

"We have no up front costs, really, It's all covered by Solar Liberty," Marx said. "We start paying the lease payments once they start generating energy for us, and it's a net positive for us. So, it's really a good way to get more solar deployed in the community."

And they're hoping the project will encourage neighbors to take a look at investing in renewable energy.

"We're trying to lead by example a little bit here. I know other folks are finding it's economically feasible to do this," Marx said. "It's definitely feasible with the incentives out there, for people to consider it."

And the county is not done. The next step could be to take advantage of the wide-open spaces at the airport to install more solar panels. The lease will run for 15 years and then the county can decide to purchase the solar panels, return them, or extend their lease.

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