Dimension Fabricators installs $1.9 million solar array

It could power 150 homes, at peak output

By Stephen Williams

A Glenville company that makes rebar for the construction industry on Thursday unveiled a $1.9 million rooftop solar array that is expected to reduce energy costs significantly.

The rooftop photovoltaic panels at Dimension Fabricators in the Glenville Business and Technology Park can produce up to 942-kilowatts of electricity per hour, enough — on some days — to offset the factory's energy use. For perspective, state officials said that output level would be enough to meet the energy needs of about 150 typical homes.

"It's just the right thing to do," company President Scott Stevens said. "We know the world is warming, and we need to burn less carbon fuels."

Also on Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 850 solar projects have been installed or are in development in communities across the state through the state's "Solarize" campaign.

"New York continues to see unprecedented growth in the solar energy industry across the state, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing jobs and driving economic growth," Cuomo said in a prepared statement. "By helping residents and businesses install solar energy panels, we are reducing costs for consumers and fueling the clean energy economy in New York for years to come."

At Dimension Fabricators, 3,310 solar panels have been installed on two of the factory's three roofs, along with the inverters needed to convert generated power from direct current to alternate current suitable for use in the power grid. The company estimates the project's savings from reduced National Grid bills will pay off the investment in about six years.

The project has been in development for more than a year, and it received $369,636 in support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. NYSERDA President Alicia Barton attended Thursday's announcement at the factory, along with U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, an outspoken clean-energy advocate.

"If you can do it in the manufacturing sector, you can do it across the board," said Tonko, a former NYSERDA president and co-chair of the House of Representatives Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. "Investing in the clean energy economy absolutely creates more jobs."

Barton, who joined NYSERDA in late June, said similar projects are needed across the state to meet Cuomo's goal of generating 50 percent of the state's energy from clean sources by 2030.

"Adopting solar energy is a smart way for large manufacturers to lower their energy costs and their carbon footprint at the same time," Barton said.

She described the Dimensions project as "significant scale," and said the state's goal is to get more factories to convert.

"We think if we get this right, a lot of manufacturers will do this because it will be economically advantageous," Barton said.

The panels were provided by EnterSolar of New York City, a nationwide company that, in the Capital Region, has also installed panels on Stewart's Shops manufacturing plant in Greenfield and another array in Halfmoon to offset the power use of 17 Stewart's locations.

At Thursday's event, the Center for Economic Growth in Albany, a regional economic development agency, announced it will work with NYSERDA on a program to make it easier for businesses and manufacturers to explore the costs and benefits of going solar.

The CEG program, called SolarGEN, will pre-qualify solar energy vendors, allow businesses to save money through joint purchasing agreements and help cover the initial costs of exploring a solar conversion.

"CEG's SolarGEN campaign provides a one-stop resource for local manufacturing and commercial facilities to improve performance and maximize the benefits of renewable and alternative energy technologies," CEG President and CEO Andrew Kennedy said. "If manufacturers have questions about solar energy, we are there to be a resource."

Both the Dimension Fabricators and CEG projects are receiving funding under Cuomo's $1 billion NY-SUN initiative.

Dimension Fabricators makes concrete-reinforcing steel rods — commonly called rebar — for use in construction projects in New York state and beyond. Stevens said about 60 percent of the company's rebar is shipped out-of-state. The company has just fewer than 100 employees.

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