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Solstice solar farm being cleared on Frog Hollow Road at the end of May.
A Renewable Future With Community Solar
Frog Hollow Project Sets Operation Timeline
By Chris Rowley
WAWARSING – Frog Hollow Road lies about halfway between Ellenville and Woodbourne 0ff Route 52. A quiet spot, except in spring when the frogs are mating and in August when the summer camps are all open.
Frog Hollow Road lies about halfway between Ellenville and Woodbourne 0ff Route 52. A quiet spot, except in spring when the frogs are mating and in August when the summer camps are all open. Now Frog Hollow is in the process of joining the 21st century. A three-megawatt solar farm is being erected there on a twelve-acre site. The company behind this venture is Solstice solar energy, which specializes in "community solar." The company explains that four out of five Americans cannot have their own rooftop solar panels. The primary reasons being that they live in apartments, their houses lack sufficient exposure to the sun or the roof has a structural issue. Then there’s the cost, which without subsidies can run to $15,000. This provides the opening for community solar. Remember that all electric power generated, whether by splitting uranium atoms at Indian Point, burning natural gas in 900-megawatt power plants, rotating wind turbines in Canandaigua, spinning other turbines at waterfalls, or even burning biomass, feeds into the grid. The way electricity is controlled, moved around, distributed, monitored and eventually billed for is massively complicated in New York State. New York derives forty-two percent of its electric power from natural gas, thirty-one percent from six nuclear reactors, almost twenty percent from various hydro stations, about three percent from wind and two percent from solar. The state forecasts a relatively slow increase in electric power usage, and with that an increase in "distributed" power generation, which means primarily rooftop and community solar projects. Community solar takes advantage of the existing grid. A solar "farm" is built and the power from it is fed into the grid. That power is then sold to those who sign up for the project. Generally speaking, people with annual electric bills of, say, $2,000 can expect savings of around $175 a year, and this is achieved without having solar panels on your roof or anywhere on your own property. Nor are there any upfront costs. The company claims an average savings of about ten percent on your electricity bills. And customers can cancel their service as long as they give the company two months advance notice. Solstice spokesman Scott Becker said the solar project is now under construction. The Frog Hollow project expects to turn on in October and convert its first rays of sunlight into electricity for Wawarsing residents, and others who might join the project. Becker puts it all in a nutshell, "Community solar enables households to subscribe to a shared solar farm in their neighborhood. Participants immediately begin saving money on their utility bills and earn reliable monthly savings, without paying any cost to join or changing anything about their home. Because of community solar, millions of Americans [and thousands of New Yorkers] can benefit from clean energy for the first time." The model remains the same. Important points. If your power is delivered via Central Hudson’s poles and cables, you can join this project. And you don’t need to be a Wawarsing resident. In fact, you can even obtain your electricity from a supplier other than Central Hudson, such as Orange & Rockland. All the same cost benefits will apply. If you are curious about breaks on your electric bill, or going solar, and want to look into Solstice, just give them a call at 866-826-1997.