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Thursday, January 15, 2015

St. Bonaventure to Benefit From
New Solar Power Project in Olean

St. Bonaventure University will save an estimated $100,000 or more a year on its electric bill thanks to a new solar electric project being developed in Olean.

BQ Energy of Poughkeepsie, a leader in developing renewable energy on brownfields and landfills, will construct a pair of 2.7-megawatt solar arrays on a 24-acre portion (Parcel 3) of the Olean Gateway Site off Buffalo Road near Interstate 86.

The longtime industrial site has been undergoing a massive cleanup over the past several years to make the land usable again for development.

The project, called Solean, is among eight projects in Western New York and 141 in the state receiving support through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative.

“It couldn’t be more of a win-win situation for us,” said Brenda McGee, senior vice president for finance and administration at St. Bonaventure. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with BQ on this clean-energy initiative, which reaffirms our commitment to sustainability and the reduction of our carbon footprint.”

NY-Sun is a $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. It is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The university will benefit from the state’s Remote Net Metering Credits program.

Electrical power generated by the solar project will be delivered to National Grid for use in the area. National Grid will credit St. Bonaventure for the value of the power generated, and the university will pay a portion of that amount to BQ Energy.

“BQ Energy likes to work with educational institutions. We have found the savings from lower electricity prices combined with carbon-free electricity supplies is an appealing combination,” said Jim Falsetti, director of BQ Energy.

The net effect will be estimated savings to the university exceeding $100,000 per year, and a substantial reduction in the university’s — and the region’s — carbon footprint because of reduced use of fossil fuels, said Phil Winger, associate vice president for facilities at St. Bonaventure.

Site cleanup, administered by the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program, is expected to be completed this summer.

“Once the site is fully remediated, we hope to begin construction in August,” Falsetti said. “It should take about three months to complete.”

BQ Energy is the company proposing to build a sprawling solar complex in Lackawanna, called Steel Sun, that would install 13,000 solar panels on the former Bethlehem Steel site.

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