Happy Earth Week, Robert Moses

Robert Moses going solarRobert Moses State Park is in line for a solar installation.

A 500-kilowatt solar energy system will turn Robert Moses State Park into the nation’s first energy-neutral state park.

As part of New York’s Earth Week observances, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that a new $1.7 million photovoltaic system at the park would generate enough electricity to meet or exceed the park’s annual electricity usage, saving the state roughly $130,000 annually in energy costs and turning Robert Moses State Park’s green fields, well, greener.

The governor’s office did not say specifically when the installation would take place, but did note that state officials will first conduct an energy audit and recommend ways the park, located on the South Shore in the Town of Babylon, can become more energy-efficient. Some of those recommendations would be implemented prior to the installation of the new solar generator, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The photovoltaic system consists of 1,792 pole-mounted panels and will be installed near the Field 2 and Field 4 parking lots. Buffalo-based National Solar Technologies designed the system and is providing the panels and other equipment, the release noted, while “newly trained” state park employees will handle the installation – marking the 10th, and largest), photovoltaic project undertaken by state park employees to date.

The project is part of NY Parks 2020, a multi-year plan to leverage public and private funding into a $900 million investment in the state parks system. The governor’s 2015-16 budget earmarks $110 million for NY Parks 2020.

PSEG Long Island is contributing $87,000 toward the Robert Moses State Park solar project, according to the release.

“Robert Moses State Park is visited by hundreds of thousands of residents on a yearly basis,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a written statement. “Providing the opportunity to install a solar system not only serves to protect the environment, but will continue to keep in the forefront for visitors the importance of the use of renewable energy and technology.”

Robert Moses State Park might not be the only Long Island park to go solar this year. The state is planning to install another 300 kilowatts of solar-generating capacity at parks across New York this year, according to the release, including a smaller project at Sunken Meadow State Park in Smithtown.