Morgan Frisch/Recorder staff
Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES Board of Education President Joanne Freeman flips the switch on the new 800-kilowatt solar farm during a ceremony Tuesday on the Route 67 campus.


Recorder News Staff

JOHNSTOWN — Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES Board of Education President Joanne Freeman flipped the switch for a new 800-kilowatt solar farm on the Route 67 campus Tuesday.

Freeman asked the dozens of students from the environmental conservation, construction technology and engineering technology programs who were in attendance to stand with her for the moment.

“This is all for you guys, not just for us,” she said.

HFM BOCES District Superintendent Patrick Michel told the crowd, which also included representatives from government offices, staff and  Dynamic Energy officials, how they were there to celebrate a three-year  journey to get a solar farm placed on campus.

He thanked the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, Montgomery County Legislature and Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees for their help in the process of approving the project.

Crews installed the ground-mounted solar array this summer on approximately three-acres in front of the BOCES building, according to a release. The facility includes over 2,100 panels that were installed through an agreement with WGL Energy, who entered a 20-year lease agreement for the land. WGL worked with subcontractor Dynamic Energy.

It’s estimated the project will generate more than $800,000 for BOCES over the next 20 years, offsetting or exceeding its future utility costs, according to the release. The energy is being sold to National Grid.

Michel told the crowd they did the project for two reasons, one of which was money.

“We sell all of the energy back to the electric company because when we did a cross benefit analysis it turns out that we do better by selling it back than we do by using it,” he said. “We are selling it back and so we are making money that way and it’s going to benefit all of our component schools districts because they all eventually have to pay the bills for us. They are going to have a lot less in energy costs that they will have to pay overtime.”

Michel said the more important part of this project is all of the students standing around them.

“We felt two things really, that one, you would all benefit from this system being here and studying it and following it and seeing how it works and everything else, but two you don’t educate by lecturing, I don’t care what anybody says,” Michel said. “ You can educate a little by lecture, but you really educate by example. That’s the most important way you educate. You educate by example and by showing all the young people and quite frankly the adults, your true commitment to the environment and to the planet and that’s really what this is about.”

Michel said there are meters hooked up inside the building students will be able to monitor. He said they will also be able to come out to the panels and monitor what’s going on.

Dynamic Energy Vice President Greg Boyer said a few words about the project.

“As Dr. Michel said, this was a long journey to get here, but we are happy that it’s done, it’s on, it’s producing energy,” he said. “If I can just thank Dr. Michel, because without Dr. Michel and his push for this project, it  would have never have gotten done. It’s really a testament to his desire to show what we can do for the earth.”