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Bethel launches community solar program

Matt Shortall - Editor
Posted 6/3/21

BETHEL — When Bethel imagines a brighter future it sees solar energy. At their regular board meeting on May 26, the town board discussed their partnership with Source Power and BQ Energy to launch …

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Bethel launches community solar program


BETHEL — When Bethel imagines a brighter future it sees solar energy. At their regular board meeting on May 26, the town board discussed their partnership with Source Power and BQ Energy to launch a new community solar campaign.

The “Psychedelic Solar Project,” named in honor of Bethel's music and arts history, will soon break ground on a 2.7 MW solar installation to be located on the town's capped landfill on Old White Lake Turnpike in Swan Lake. Once the installation is complete, residents and businesses in Bethel who are subscribed to the solar progam will pay 10 percent less for electricity each month.

“The campaign will offer residents and businesses 100 percent renewable energy even if their properties are not appropriate for rooftop solar by participating in the shared solar installation,” explained Karen London, Co-Chair of the Sustainable Bethel Committee. “It will repurpose what was otherwise unusable town property … and not only repurpose it for a wonderful cause, but also ensure a revenue stream for the next 25 years through lease payments of over $26,000 a year. It's truly a win-win for the town. ”

Sustainable Bethel is a committee of volunteers that works with the town board to research and develop recommendations to lower the town's greenhouse gas emissions and adopt renewable energy policies.

London commended the Town of Bethel for being a leader in Sullivan County for renewable energy initiatives.

“Even though this is small, to me it's significant,” London said. “It represents participation in state, national and world efforts to leave our children and grandchildren a more sustainable future.”

London said that the process began about five years ago when federal EPA representatives visited the Town of Bethel to assess the viability of the capped landfill for a solar array. A feasibility study was conducted, at no cost to the town, by engineering students of Cornell University's graduate program.

Since 2018, the Town of Bethel has been a bronze certified “climate smart community” for its efforts to reduce government and community greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for a changing climate, and save taxpayer's money through energy-saving projects.

Last month, Bethel became the first town in Sullivan County to adopt the NYStretch Energy Code which decreases energy consumption and long-term costs on new and renovated buildings.

Alicia Scott, a project manager and electrical engineer at BQ Energy, was present at the meeting to answer questions from the public about the Psychedelic Solar Project. Tony Napoletano of Source Power attended the meeting virtually.

Based in Dutchess County, BQ Energy specializes in developing solar and windprojects on landfills and brownfield sites.

“We go around to towns looking for places that are really hard to develop in any other way,” Scott said. “We couldn't be more pleased to add the Town of Bethel to our project pipeline.”

Napoletano explained, “We want to see [projects like this] happen everywhere and we're trying to bring about a renewable future.”

According to Scott, they hope to break ground on the project later this summer and be operational by early winter. Electricity generated by the solar farm will be sent directly to the local power grid and subscribers will automatically receive credits to lower their electricity costs on their utility bill each month.

Early enrollment for the community solar program is open now. Visit bethel.sourcepowerco.com or call 888-887-5711 for more information.

Town of Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm reiterated that the use of a capped landfill to produce solar energy at a cost savings to residents and businesses represented a win-win for the town.

“This campaign demonstrates Bethel's continued commitment to sustainable initiatives,” Sturm said.


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