Valley Shore YMCA Solar Exceeds Expectations

Zip06 | Aviva Luria
March 3, 2021

The solar array at the Valley Shore YMCA (VSYMCA), a project designed to save money on electricity as well as further the organization’s energy conservation efforts, is performing even better than expected, according to VSYMCA Executive Director Chris Pallatto.

The organization contracted with Middletown-based solar company Clean Focus (formerly Greenskies) in 2019 to install a 600-kilowatt solar field on a section of the VSYMCA’s 25 acres of land on Spencer Plains Road. The array of roughly 1,200 solar panels can be seen from I-95.

“We’ve got an online portal that [allows us to] monitor the progress and how much energy is being generated over the course of the year in real time,” he said.

According to that portal, the system has produced 312 megawatt hours to date since it went live in August 2020.

“One megawatt would power 813 homes for an hour, so we’ve produced 300 times that,” he said.

By way of a net metering system, when the solar panels produce more energy than the facility uses, the overage is transmitted to the grid. That energy is credited to the VSYMCA’s account to draw upon when the panels aren’t generating any power: at night, say, or on a cloudy day.

To date, the VSYMCA has not had to draw energy from the grid above the credited amount, according to Pallatto, but that could change once it returns to its usual hours.

“We are operating on reduced hours since we’ve opened up since the pandemic,” he said. “It’s hard to say if that will be sustained forever, but as of right now, we’re just thrilled with the amount of power we’re producing.”

According to an interview with Pallatto in January 2020, the system was expected to produce around 90 percent of the facility’s electrical needs and save roughly $600,000 over the next 20 years.