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State offers to cover half of solar costs

WATKINS GLEN, PENN YAN—Residents and businesses in Penn Yan and Watkins Glen are being offered a program that could pay for up to half of the installation costs of converting to solar power.
Paul DeMichele, media contact with New York Power Authority, said the program is being offered to the 51 municipal systems and rural cooperatives hooked up to NYPA for power. He added that in addition to the federal rebate offered after installation of solar power equipment, most of the startup costs could be covered.
DeMichele explained people have to apply for the program. NYPA anticipates that it can provide funding for approximately 50 to 80 systems statewide under the program.
Minard LaFever, Watkins Glen electric plant operator, explained that the program is being offered to municipalities who agree to participate and sign a contract. He said he, and the village have only heard about the program last week. LaFever said he was not sure if the village would want to participate or not.
“I’m still learning about it,” he said.
One thing he does know is what the NYPA wants to focus on. LaFever said the state wants to target schools, industry buildings and municipally owned buildings. He explained that once a municipality signs the contract NYPA wants a list of four or five possible projects. However, LaFever said there are stipulations. One is that the roof the solar system would be put on cannot be older than five years.
Both NYPA and LaFever said the program ties into Gov. David Paterson’s “45 by 15” plan. The governor wants to have 45 percent of the state’s power to be solar generated by 2015.
According to the NYPA, the project is also being partnered by the Municipal Electric Utilities Association and the New York Association of Public Power.

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