BALDWIN - The Baldwin Solar Farm, a large array of solar panels in the hills of Baldwin near the Town of Chemung, could save connected residents 10 percent on their electricity bills and can help a local service organization. 

The farm, built by Delaware River Solar, operates off of NYSEG’s standing power grid and can service homes in 18 upstate counties, including Steuben. It's expected to go online in March.

“Everyone who is a NYSEG customer in the central part of the state is able to get involved,” said Sean Hutton, Field Operations Manager with Solstice, an organization that assists homeowners with connecting to community solar arrays.

Those interested can reach out to Solstice, who will then get in touch with the homeowner and analyze their electricity consumption.

“We take a look at their usage and determine how many panels would make sense to produce the amount of electricity they use,” Hutton said. “And then basically instead of paying electricity to NYSEG, they pay that to Delaware River Solar at a ten percent reduced price.”

The farm is still accepting applications from homeowners. It's capable of servicing around 400 households, and around 200 homeowners have already signed up.

“That’s 400 homes that don’t need to be fueled by natural gas (and other fossil fuels),” Hutton said.

Other than the reduced carbon footprint that will be achieved by transitioning 400 New York homes to solar power, Hutton said there are other fringe benefits of solar farms such as the one in Baldwin.

The Baldwin farm is set up on land owned by a local farmer, Hutton said. The farmer will receive “significant” lease payments by Delaware River Solar for allowing the array to be on the property. Delaware River Solar will also pay approximately $16,000 a year in taxes to the Town of Baldwin.

The Chemung River Friends will also receive $100 for every household that signs up. The River Friends is a non-profit organization that works to preserve the Chemung River and its tributaries.

“It’s helping the environment, this is clean energy... Two, it’s helping the community,” said River Friends president Jim Pfiffer. “I keep looking for the downside... I can’t find it.”

Those interested in connecting to the Baldwin Solar Farm can visit www.solstice.us and provide their information. Hutton said Solstice will then get back to them and go over available options.