Solar panels will soon power one of the borough’s schools for special needs children.
New York Institute for Special Education on Pelham Parkway and New York State’s K-Solar program, an initiative to fund solar installations at public and private schools, announced in a ceremony on Tuesday, January 19 that the school’s plan was the first to be approved under the new mandate.
At least a dozen other schools are also being considered, officials said.
Among the attendees at the announcement were Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, NYS ‘energy czar’ Richard Kauffman, New York Power Authority CEO Gil Quiniones; John Rhodes, president of the school’s board of directors and Dr. Bernadette Kappen, NYISE executive director.
Children from the school also were on hand to hear the dignitaries.
The 117 kilowatt system’s installation on top of the school’s Frampton Hall on Astor Avenue will be installed later this year. It is expected to generate about half of the school’s overall power need, said Kappen.
“We will save money for the school, which we can use for educational programs for the children,” said Kappen. “Also there is a curriculum which goes with the project which will really be helpful in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math area for our students as well.”
As part of the K-Solar program, teachers will be provided materials to teach students in the critical ‘STEM’ subjects, and will even be able to structure lessons where students can get up close to the panels, she said.
The borough president said in his remarks that local government should work toward sustainability with NYPA and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Doing so can protect the environment, the borough president said, going onto explain that the number one polluter, existing buildings, could be cleaned up using technologies like solar.
In his remarks, Diaz also said he believes that developments similar to the one at NYSIE will keep the community healthier, create jobs, and hopefully eventually lower rents when energy becomes less expensive.
“Do not trivialize the magic that we are doing here today,” the borough president said, telling the youth that the fanfare is really about having a cleaner planet.
Gjonaj said that energy is now being created just blocks from his home and that he will be back to learn more about how the program has affected the school community.
The contractor for the project is Solar City. Patrick Corr, the company’s public sector director, said that NYISE will benefit from the system in a number of ways.
Under the K-Solar program, the school will have no up front capital improvement costs, he said, adding that it will significantly reduce the cost of electricity
“The financial benefits are enormous,” he said, adding that climate change is very real and that this could be beneficial to society as a whole.
“It is clearly the way society is trending,” he said. “Everyone realizes that this is where we need to go.”
The K-Solar program is one part of the governor’s goal of having half of the state energy come from ‘clean and renewable sources’ by 2030.