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Robert Moses State Park plans major solar energy system

Robert Moses State Park will become the nation's first state park to generate all the electricity it uses thanks to a major planned solar energy system, officials said Thursday.

When 1,792 solar panels go online this fall, they're expected to generate 690,000 kilowatt-hours a year -- powering everything from lights to hamburger grills.

Officials said the $1.7 million array will save about $130,000 a year in power costs -- half the South Shore park's budget for nonpersonnel expenses.

Mounted on poles, the panels will stand at the back of the parking lots for Fields 2 and 4 and won't obstruct ocean views, officials said.

"They're visually low-impact," said Wayne Horsley, regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The 10th state park to go solar, Robert Moses is an ideal location with "a lot of sun and a lot of space," state parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said.

"We hope that Robert Moses -- as the first state park in the country to be energy neutral -- will be a model, hopefully, for other state parks across the country," Harvey said Thursday morning at the park.

The project is part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 plan to restore state parks' historic grandeur while also modernizing and protecting them from the elements.

The 2015-16 state budget set aside $110 million to upgrade state parks. PSEG Long Island is contributing $87,000 toward the Robert Moses project.

Sunken Meadow in Kings Park is one of four other state parks slated for solar projects this year that could produce a total of 300 kilowatt-hours. The others are: Peebles Island and Thacher parks in the Capital Region; and Allan H. Treman park in the Finger Lakes area.

Robert Moses, along with other parks, will also be audited to find other ways to save energy.

While Buffalo-based National Solar Technologies designed and supplied the new system, 20 specially trained state park electricians will install it.

Paul Vargovich, the company's general manager, said power generated by the system is equivalent to what 90 U.S. households consume in a year.

Robert Moses attracts more than 3 million visitors a year.


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