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LOCKPORT – The Crosby’s convenience store at Lake Avenue and Old Niagara Road expects the equivalent of 70 free days of electricity per year from an array of solar power panels it showed off Wednesday.

The company said it is the first solar-powered convenience store in the region.

The chain, a subsidiary of Lockport-based Reid Petroleum, plans to add solar power to another store, at Wehrle Drive and Union Road in Cheektowaga, by December.

That project, like the one shown in Lockport, is to be installed by Montante Solar of Kenmore.

The 198-panel array to the east of the store’s parking lot will generate a maximum of 51.5 kilowatts of power per year, or about 20 percent of the store’s electricity usage. That’s about the same amount of electricity it takes to power 5.4 average homes.

“It’s a 52-kilowatt green, mean electric machine. This is the wave of the future,” Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said.

Reid Group President Paul Quebral said besides saving money, the output “reduces stress on the electric power grid.”

Daniel Montante, president of Montante Solar, said excess power generated at the store during the warmer months will be sold to New York State Electric & Gas Corp.

An estimated 35 percent of the cost of the project was funded by the New York Energy Research and Development Authority under its NY-Sun program. Quebral declined to disclose the cost of the Lockport installation.

Kelly Tyler of NYSERDA said the NY-Sun program, touted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in this year’s State of the State address, has given out $27.5 million in assistance in the last two years to 415 residences and 281 businesses in Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

Statewide, it averages $4.8 million in assistance each month to solar power projects. Tyler said NYSERDA limits its aid to any particular project to 40 percent of the cost. The projects it helps under the open enrollment program are capped at 25 kilowatts for a residential project or 200 kilowatts for a commercial venture.

Aid for larger projects also is available through NY-Sun, Tyler said.

The initiative, launched in 2012, is targeted to make $800 million in solar power investments statewide through 2015.

“Solar is a critical component of New York’s diverse renewable energy portfolio,” Tyler said.

“It takes a forward-thinking company like Reid Petroleum, like Montante Solar, to go out and take advantage of the change in the laws,” said State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.

“The price of solar installation is dropping dramatically,” Maziarz said. “Solar is the way to go in the state of New York.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com