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Frost Valley flips the switch

Carol Montana - Reporter/Photographer
Posted 5/23/19

CLARYVILLE ­— After many days of rain, the sun greeted a small gathering at Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville on Saturday, May 18. The sun was a welcome sight for both presenters and attendees, as …

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Frost Valley flips the switch


CLARYVILLE ­— After many days of rain, the sun greeted a small gathering at Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville on Saturday, May 18. The sun was a welcome sight for both presenters and attendees, as the reason for the get-together was the ribbon cutting for Frost Valley's “Flip the Switch” Ceremony to introduce their new 672-panel solar array.

At the site of the solar array, the audience heard a welcome from President of the Frost Valley Board of Trustees Jim Vaughan. He thanked “the staff for their vision, diligence and enthusiasm,” and the anonymous capital partner who made the project possible.

The next speaker, Ulster County Legislator Kathy Nolan, called the project an “example of how we should all be leading our lives.” She said the legislature is trying to get more towns around Ulster County to “lean toward climate-smart communities.” And mentioned that in 2018, the Legislature recognized Frost Valley with a Green Business Leader Award.

Earlier at the Welcome Center, Nolan, whose 22nd District covers the towns of Olive, Shandaken, Denning and Hardenburgh, had called “Flip the Switch” a “wonderfully exciting event. … The project is very important for Frost Valley, which … serves as a model for how we can live with less impact on the earth and take care of the space in which we live.”

Before the ribbon cutting, Leslie Berliant, Chief of Staff for State Senator Jen Metzger said, “Anybody who doubts that we can get to a clean, green economy has not seen Frost Valley.” She mentioned Metzger's recent proposed bill called the Freedom from Fossil Fuels Act “that will mandate we no longer invest in fossil fuel infrastructure, but that our investments go towards this kind of clean, green energy.” Berliant then read and presented a proclamation from Senator Metzger.

Frost Valley's CEO Jerry Huncosky, said the idea for the solar array came from two places, “the first was an effort to respond to tens of thousands of 13-year-olds who come to Frost Valley through their school for environmental education. They ask a lot of hard questions about our contribution to practicing what we are teaching. The second, was an effort to get a tighter handle on operational costs as meeting the bottom line became more and more difficult.”

Huncosky reported that the Frost Valley electric bill is in excess of $125,000 per year. He spoke about the efforts to turn the idea for the array into reality, and thanked the board, the donor, his staff, the Town of Denning, Prism - the Highland, NY solar panel manufacturer - the Buffalo, NY installer Solar Liberty, represented by John Karyczak, and current energy provider Central Hudson. The CEO heaped great praise on project manager and Frost Valley's Chief Operating Officer, Tom Holsapple. “This may have been my vision, but it was Tom who made this all possible,” said Huncosky.

Statistics quoted by Huncosky and questions Frost Valley staff ask themselves before undertaking any project told them this solar array was a good project. “Is it the right thing to do? Is there a positive return on our investment? Can we teach others how to do this?”

Getting a yes on all three questions, Huncosky and his team learned that the bifacial array will “provide 35 percent of Frost Valley's electrical needs by providing 280,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity; … a financial savings of nearly $40,000 annually; … over its 30-year life it will save us from burning 1050 tons of coal - a savings of 200,000 pounds of Carbon Dioxide that will not be emitted into the atmosphere …” made it into a win-win project. “Today is a first step and a step we hope many of you will take as well,” said Huncosky.

Project Manager, Tom Holsapple cut the ribbon on the array with help from UC Legislator Kathy Nolan, and then gave some details about the bifacial array - able to absorb energy from both sides - and spoke about how the camp will incorporate education into the installation.

Following the ribbon cutting, several of the attendees went on a tour of the camp's composting facility, the Sugar Shack where maple syrup is made, and a solar thermal array, which is used to heat water for the camp's Leadership Lodge. There are five such arrays on the camp's property.


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