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Orleans has the largest solar panel array in the north country

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LAFARGEVILLE — Giant solar panels soon will be powering LaFargeville’s wastewater treatment plant.

Due to go online in May, the 100-kilowatt system is the largest solar panel array in the north country, followed by Fort Drum’s 90-kilowatt photovoltaic system.

Robert J. Campany, the engineer who designed the project, said more than 400 solar modules were used for the system, which should save municipal sewer users of the hamlet $15,000 to $20,000 a year by covering the cost of electricity at the treatment plant.

Town officials have said these reductions in operating costs will free up funds for renovations to the facility.

Fourth Coast Inc., a Clayton consulting firm co-founded by Mr. Campany, has been overseeing the installation and is assisting with the training of town of Orleans employees for the maintenance of the system.

Electrical wiring work remains, but all of the panels have been mounted on racks near the lagoon at the sewage treatment plant on Sunrise Avenue.

Covering about half an acre, the photovoltaic system weighs an estimated 20,000 pounds.

Mr. Campany said 90 percent of the roughly $380,000 project was covered through New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and state Environmental Facilities Corp. grants.

The town of Orleans was one of 40 municipalities, nonprofits and businesses in the state to receive a total of $15 million under the EFC’s Green Innovation Grant Program in 2011.

Orleans also has solar panels mounted on its municipal building, library, transfer station and highway garage. Officials hope to secure more funds to install photovoltaic systems at other town facilities to cut back on operational costs through green energy projects.

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