On a clear and sunny Thursday – conditions ideal for solar panels to do their thing – the county’s first solar energy system atop a gas station was unveiled in Amherst.
Crosby’s, a convenience store with fueling pumps, was recently fitted with a 110-panel, 29-kilowatt system — with 66 panels on the canopy and another 44 on the roof of the store. The system will reduce the business’ carbon footprint and its energy consumption by 10 percent, resulting in the equivalent of about 30 to 45 days of free electricity a year.
“This installation is a statement that the Reid Group is focused on sustainability and being good corporate neighbors,” said Paul Quebral, president of the Reid Group, which owns the chain of convenience stores. In the first month of continual operation, the system generated 4,300 kilowatt hours and is projected to produce 30,000 kilowatt hours annually.
Quebral was joined by Daniel Montante, president of Montante Solar, which installed the system. Last year, Montante Solar installed a 200-panel, 52-kilowatt system at Crosby’s Lake Avenue location in Lockport. Savings from that array equals about 60 days of free electricity, Montante said.
“Crosby’s was the first Western New York convenience store to install solar panels at their Lockport location, and in keeping with this tradition, this site is also the first gasoline canopy solar energy system in Western New York,” Montante said.
The Reid Group, based in Lockport, is an independent, full-service marketer of motor fuel. It bought Crosby’s stores in 2004. There are 49 locations throughout Western New York and northwest Pennsylvania.
The Amherst store, on Wherle Drive at Union Road, is the chain’s only metro Buffalo location, but another store is in the works for Sweet Home and Maple roads. Quebral said the company will explore installing systems at other locations.
“With our success in Lockport, we began to look to additional opportunities to integrate solar power in our operations,” Quebral said. “Let’s be clear, like any service business, our top priority is reliability and satisfaction for our customers. But we consider ourselves leaders in our industry, and to be a leader is to continually find ways to innovate.”
While the Reid Group didn’t provide costs, it received partial funding through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
On the same day as Crosby’s unveiling, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced K-Solar, a program that’s part of the $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative that will give free energy-saving advice to determine if solar energy is suitable and cost-effective for school districts.
So far, a total of 40 districts have registered for the program. K-Solar is a joint partnership between the New York Power Authority and the State Energy and Research Development Authority.