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Cornell University’s new Sutton Road Solar Farm is online.

The completed Sutton Road Solar Farm became operational April 13. <b>(Courtesy Rob Way/NYSAES)</b>

Sutton Road Solar Farm. (Courtesy Rob Way/NYSAES)

The 2-megawatt energy facility, which was built to offset nearly 40 percent of the annual electricity demand at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, New York, became fully operational April 13.

“Within our fruit and vegetable programs, we’re studying the best way to harvest the sun, so it is only fitting the energy powering our labs and greenhouses will do the same,” said Susan Brown, the director of NYSAES.

Construction of the solar farm, a 17-acre facility featuring 9,120 photovoltaic panels, started last spring.

The project is Cornell’s second megawatt-scale solar project. In September 2014, the university opened the Cornell Snyder Road Solar Farm with 6,778 photovoltaic panels on an 11-acre plot that adjoins the Tompkins County Regional Airport in Lansing, New York.

Adding the new Geneva array to the Lansing facility’s output, the university will produce about 5,700 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.

“Moving from the natural gas-dominated heating and electric system to renewable energy is necessary to meet Cornell and New York state’s goal of decarbonizing energy,” said Bert Bland, associate vice president for energy and sustainability in the university’s infrastructure, properties and planning division.

In September 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced NY-Sun awards for large solar electric projects to increase the solar energy capacity in the state by more than 214 megawatts, a 68 percent increase over the amount of solar installed.

– by Dave Weinstock