Cummins Inc. receives solar energy funding

JAMESTOWN – A powerful project will be begin soon at Cummins Inc. Jamestown Engine Plant.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that $54 million has been awarded under his NY-Sun initiative for 79 large-scale solar energy projects across the state. Nine sites received funding in Western New York, including Cummins.

The projects are meant to produce power for on-site use, not for direct sale to utilities. Under certain circumstances, however, unused power can be added to the grid in exchange for future credit.

“Gov. Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative has led to unprecedented demand for solar power among large electric consumers. Less than two years old, this is a great success story for New York,” said Francis Murray Jr., president and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Agency. “The investments we are making in solar power will help businesses around the state control and reduce their utility expenses, while increasing the amount of electricity the state gets from renewable energy and reducing demand on the electric grid.”

Buffalo-based Solar Liberty has been awarded 6.5 megawatts of solar power projects by NYSERDA. In March, Solar Liberty was named as the solar installer for four large-scale installations, including Cummins.

“With support from Gov. Cuomo and funding from NYSERDA, large-scale photovoltaic projects have now become a reality,” said Adam Rizzo, Solar Liberty president, who is originally from Jamestown. “As we celebrate our 10 year anniversary this year, we are excited about the future of renewable energy in the Western New York area and across New York state.”

The partnership between Solar Liberty and Cummins came about with help from the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency.

“Solar Liberty has been regularly at our Chautauqua County Energy Conference and Expo,” said Bill Daly, CCIDA administrative director. “They’ve done some major installations all over.”

When Daly learned that Solar Liberty was looking to work on a large commercial project, which would not cost any money to the company that was awarded it, he immediately thought of Cummins. After speaking with representatives from Cummins about the project, Daly got the two companies together.

“This is what we do that people don’t often see,” Daly said. “We do a lot of connections, getting local businesses to work with each other. This is a big deal for us to have been the total intermediary connecting the photovoltaic company with their NYSERDA application, to go to our largest private employer that had a facility that could handle a huge photovoltaic installation.”

Randal Myers, director of manufacturing, engineering and facilities at Cummins, said the company is pleased to partner with Solar Liberty to install a 2MW solar system on Cummins’ 1 million square foot roof.

“Environmental sustainability is a core value for Cummins,” Myers said. “This sustainability commitment has been demonstrated in meeting the stringent emission requirements for the heavy duty 11, 12 and 15 liter diesel engines produced at JEP, as well as reducing energy usage within the operation. Generating a significant amount of renewable energy at the facility is an exciting opportunity.”

County Executive Greg Edwards credited the CCIDA for building relationships with businesses and start-up companies, which helped put this deal into place.

“Solar Liberty is with the Rizzo family from Jamestown – Nathan, Adam and Paige,” Edwards said. “Then they hired another local guy by the name of Ryan Calalesina, and he graduated from Southwestern. … What Bill Daly was able to do was, he was able to connect local people at Solar Liberty with Cummins Engine, one of our best local employers, and together completed the application for this significant grant.”

Edwards said the award demonstrates that local people continue to increase their success. Additionally, he said Cummins is able to reduce its cost of energy, and make the company even more competitive through this deal.

“It demonstrates that businesses in Chautauqua County can be on the cutting edge of all sorts of opportunities, including environmentally friendly energy production,” Edwards said. “I strongly believe this is one of the examples of a successful program that people across New York state will see. I believe it will once again be the way to help other businesses follow along and take advantage of these changing opportunities in energy production. The bottom line is, two local businesses get a chance to grow, and everyone benefits from that in Chautauqua County.”