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Energy

Rochester airport unveils rooftop solar panels

It may have taken longer than expected, but Greater Rochester International Airport is finally showing off its rooftop solar panels.

"Starting today, the airport has gone green," said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks at Thursday's airport press conference.

Airport officials say the 50,000-square-foot solar array will provide about 10 percent of the airport's electricity.

As for plans to also put wind turbines on the roof: don't expect to see those spinning any time soon.

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"It's certainly a commitment that we've made," Brooks said about the wind turbines. "It will be a companion piece to the solar panels, and we're hoping to move that forward this spring."

Brooks says there's no updated timetable for when the small scale wind turbines may be in place.

The rooftop solar array will be enough to reduce the airport's carbon footprint by 68 tons of CO2 per year. That's equal to the emissions from about 7,000 gallons of gasoline (for comparison, a single Boeing 737 has a maximum fuel capacity of 6,875 gallons).

Officials say the $500,000 project will save the airport more than $600,000 over the next 20 years. The project was entirely funded by a grant from NYSERDA and money from the airport's airline-funded renewal and replacement fund.

The solar panels - which lie flat on the terminal building's roof - are expected to have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years.

The Buffalo-based energy firm Solar Liberty installed the 320 panels.

According to Solar Liberty, it's Rochester's largest solar project.

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