Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

March 25, 2020

Dan Keefe | Brian Nearing
(518) 486-1868 |

Major Solar Power Projects Launched at Four State Parks on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley

Doubling Solar Power Output at State Parks Will Advance Goals of Restore Mother Nature Environment Bond Proposal

Clean Energy Investment with the New York Power Authority Will Produce 4.6 Gigawatt Hours of Renewable Energy a Year, Offset Emissions, and Reduce Energy

Costs Solar power production at State Parks will more than double with four projects to be built in the Hudson Valley and Long Island as an example of projects aligned with the goals of Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed Restore Mother Nature bond act proposal.

A joint effort by State Parks and the New York Power Authority, the new solar arrays support a statewide effort to increase use of renewable energy across state properties, make the parks system more sustainable and energy efficient, and support New York's ambitious clean energy goals.

"State Parks must continue efforts to become more sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint," said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. "Our goal is to keep scaling up our solar capacity and produce enough power to cover half of our needs by 2025."

"New York State's parks are a great place to harness the power of the sun and to model sustainability as a key element of energy production throughout the state," said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. "Expanding the use of clean energy technology makes a public statement about the importance of combatting climate change and helping the state reduce its carbon footprint as we move toward a cleaner future."

Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act signed last summer by Governor Cuomo, the state has a goal of renewables supplying 70 percent of electricity usage by 2030, and of zero greenhouse gas emissions from the electrical grid by 2040.

The four solar arrays at Parks locations are expected to produce about 4.6 gigawatt hours of energy a year, to be added to the 2.2 gigawatt hours currently produced at 29 current solar projects developed at State Parks since 2012. Acting as renewable energy advisor and leading the project, NYPA has been working with State Parks as part of an ongoing effort to combat climate change.

Once the new arrays are completed this year, State Parks will be covering 15 percent of its total statewide energy consumption through solar power, up from the current 4 percent figure. This will offset all the power demand in the Park's Taconic Region on the eastern side of the Hudson River, which includes 14 parks and eight historic sites in Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties.

By 2025, State Parks aims to produce about 25 gigawatt hours, which would cover half of the electricity demand at its 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses and other facilities.

The solar photovoltaic arrays totaling nearly 3.8 megawatts are to be built at:

  • Sunken Meadow State Park, Kings Park, Suffolk County - Two ground arrays at Field 5 will contain a total of 988 solar panels that are expected to produce about 444,100 kilowatt hours annually and will connect to the grid through a PSEG distribution line.
  • Taconic State Park, Copake Falls, Columbia County - A ground array at Orphan Farm Road will contain 3,640 panels that are expected to produce about 1.6 gigawatt hours the first year and will connect to the grid through a NYSEG distribution line.
  • James Baird State Park, Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County - A ground array at the Tobin II site will contain 6,474 panels that are expected to produce about 2.7 gigawatt hours in the first year and will connect to the grid through a Central Hudson distribution line.
  • Clarence Fahnestock State Park, Kent, Putnam County - A ground array at the Canopus parking lot will contain 384 panels that are expected to produce nearly 166,000 kilowatt hours in the first year and will connect to the grid through a NYSEG line

State Parks will purchase the energy produced by its systems from the project owner AES Distributed Energy, a leader in renewable energy generation, and receive a credit on its utility bills based on its energy produced. Construction of all four locations is expected to begin later this year.

"AES Distributed Energy is proud to partner with State Parks and NYPA on this exciting opportunity to help the State of New York meet its clean energy goals," said Jeff Palmer, business development manager at AES Distributed Energy.

"NY Green Bank is pleased to provide financing to support the portfolio of clean energy generation further greening New York State parks and the ambitious clean energy targets of Governor Cuomo," said Alfred Griffin, President NY Green Bank.

"Advancing clean, renewable energy goes hand-in-hand with being good environmental stewards and these projects are strong examples of New York's leadership when it comes to walking the talk on climate action. Governor Cuomo is showing the state and nation what can be done when a state is willing to take the lead by prioritizing clean energy investments and today our parks, along with all our natural resources, are better for it," said Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA.

Senator Sue Serino said, "Here in the Hudson Valley, our natural environment is one of our greatest resources and we have a duty to preserve it for the next generation. Our State Parks play a key role here in our community and increasing their use of renewable resources, is an important step forward in these efforts. I thank State Parks for their partnership and commitment to making our community an even better place to live, work and play."

Assemblymember Sandy Galef said, "Expanding solar power in our state parks will be a critical source of new renewable energy production and will help us make the switch off greenhouse emitting energy sources. I applaud the Governor for this installation, and I look forward to seeing more projects like this one pop up throughout the state."

The proposed $3 billion Restore Mother Nature bond act is part of the 2020-2021 executive budget that would mitigate man-made climate change through support environmental restoration projects, flood mitigation, and infrastructure improvements to improve resiliency to extreme storms.

New York State's Green New Deal

Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal is the most aggressive climate change program in the nation and puts the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy, including power generation, transportation, buildings, industry and agriculture. The Governor's program also establishes a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any state in the nation.

The recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandates several of the Governor's ambitious Green New Deal clean energy targets: installing nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035; six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030. The CLCPA also calls for an orderly and just transition to clean energy, creating jobs while spurring a green economy. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector and 1,700% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012.

The CLCPA also directs New York State's agencies and authorities to work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% from 1990 levels by 2050, and to work toward a goal of investing 40% of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which were visited by a record 77 million in 2019. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $5 billion in park and visitor spending, which supports nearly 54,000 jobs and over $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect with us on Facebook, or follow on Instagram , Twitter or on the State Parks blog.