Clifton Park, New York, is a town with a population of nearly 38,000, about twelve miles north of Albany. Its first community solar project, the Sugar Hill Solar Farm, opened in October.
It was not all that long ago that permitting and financial structures for community solar projects were not in place for the State of New York. That being the case, Clifton Park’s first project could not be said to have been slow in coming. Mark Richardson, the CEO of U.S. Light Energy, one of the developers, told us he had been hard at work to get the state to allow community development for years before it finally became possible. The problem is not just getting the state on board. Utilities, transmission companies, towns, and groups of people with common interests all have to be ready to do their part.
Clifton Park could not have gotten started much before it did on the community solar project, but now that project is complete. The Sugar Hill Solar Farm is a seven-megawatt system that covers about forty acres of land. Its 20,000 solar panels will produce enough electricity to power about 600 local homes, and the community solar structure makes the panels available to power the homes of residents and businesses.