By Erin Johnson, Frost Valley YMCA
As a 5,500-acre year-round overnight camp and retreat center located in the Catskills, Frost Valley has a reputation in the Tri-State Area for being a leader in environmental education. As such, Frost Valley YMCA is honored to set the standard for environmental stewardship and recently unveiled its 672-panel solar array in May of 2019.
TO INVEST OR NOT TO INVEST
When determining whether this project was strategically appropriate for Frost Valley, CEO Jerry Huncosky along with the Board of Trustees considered three very important questions, which they use for determining all major initiatives: Is this the right thing to do? Is there a positive return on our investment? Can we teach others how to do this? The answer to all three was a resounding “Yes!” This project would not have been possible without the support of Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees, its Sustainability Advisor Evadne Giannini, the Town of Denning Planning Board, utility provider Central Hudson, and a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous. Frost Valley committed to keeping this project as local as possible and contracted Solar Liberty of Buffalo, NY to install the solar array and Prism an Ulster County panel manufacturer.
GENERATING A BRIGHT FUTURE
Providing 280,000 kWh of energy, Frost Valley expects to generate up to 35% of its electricity from these innovative bifacial solar panels, which capture direct energy from the top of the panel as well as indirect solar energy reflected off the ground into the back of the panel. The array will reduce fixed energy costs by an estimated $40,000 annually.
FOR A BETTER FOOTPRINT
The solar array will also reduce Frost Valley’s environmental impact by replacing 35 tons of coal annually and over its 30-year life span will eliminate the need to burn 1,050 tons of coal. That’s the equivalent of ten railroad cars of coal!
“As an environmental education facility as well as an outdoor recreational facility, we believe our responsibility is to be model stewards of our natural resources,” says Jerry Huncosky, Frost Valley CEO. “With the completion of our 672-panel solar array, Frost Valley moves another large step closer to achieving our five-year strategic goal of reducing our overall carbon footprint by 25%. The array is expected to generate 280,000 kWh of energy, which equates to the consumption used in 50 residential homes. The nearly $40,000 Frost Valley expects to save annually on electric bills will be reinvested into future energy efficiency initiatives throughout our 5,500-acre camp.”
This solar array also provides a tremendous learning opportunity for Frost Valley’s approximately 41,000 yearly visitors. Future plans include an interactive outdoor classroom and hiking trail near the array to demonstrate to students and guests how solar works.
Frost Valley hopes other Ys will consider the many benefits of utilizing green energy. Solar panels provide an opportunity for Ys to increase self-sufficiency, reduce their carbon footprint, and offset fixed costs.
As an official YMCA Service Delivery Provider, Frost Valley is happy to set up a consultation with Ys interested in learning more about implementing solar panels or arrays. Ys interested in this can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(L to R) Jim Vaughan, Frost Valley’s President of the Board of Trustees and Jerry Huncosky, Frost Valley’s CEO at the official unveiling of the YMCA’s 672-panel solar array on May 18, 2019.