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Monroe County unveils new solar power and sustainability team

Standing before a field of tens of thousands of solar panels in Hilton, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced on Wednesday that she has created a sustainability team to carry on work like the solar array and other energy-saving projects recently launched in the county.

Dinolfo listed four projects that are saving the county about $1 million a year through reduced energy costs. Two projects required no investment from the county, and the two others involved investments totaling $3.66 million that she said would be recovered in just four years.

Cheryl Dinolfo announces her sustainability team, flanked by County Legislator Ed Wilt, Solar Liberty's Adam Rizzo, and Sustainability Team leader Mike Garland
Cheryl Dinolfo announces her sustainability team, flanked by County Legislator Ed Wilt, Solar Liberty’s Adam Rizzo, and Sustainability Team leader Mike Garland

The projects are:

  • Two solar arrays—one off Manitou Beach Road in Hilton and another at a former landfill in Penfield—that generate a combined 13 megawatts of energy, providing enough power for approximately 2,500 homes.
  • Replacement of lighting at county water facilities and Frontier Field with LEDs, at a cost of $3.04 million that will save $387,000 a year.
  • Replacing windows at the Hall of Justice, costs $820,000 and saving $62,000 a year.
  • Creating energy monitoring and controls for county buildings, which will save $220,000 a year.

Adam Rizzo, president of Solar Liberty, the Buffalo company that installed the solar arrays and will operate them for the county, said the two arrays represent the largest municipal solar project in Western New York, and one of the largest in the state.

“Monroe County is (showing) by example what our government should be doing to lead us into the green economy,” Rizzo said.

The sustainability team will be headed by Mike Garland, director of the county’s Department of Environmental Services. Dinolfo said the team would meet once a month to assess current and future opportunities to improve sustainability—lessening the county’s environmental impact while saving money.

All the people appointed and others who will be added are currently employed by the county and will take on sustainability as an additional duty, Dinolfo said.  The team includes people from environmental services, finance, planning and development, transportation, parks and the Greater Rochester International Airport.

Residents may track the county’s sustainability projects and initiatives at its new website.

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