By PHIL NOBILE
After a year of development and coordination with the Town of Harrison, Morgan Stanley cut the ribbon on a new solar panel field at its Westchester site in Purchase.
The 820-kilowatt, six-acre field on the existing Morgan Stanley property, which looks over Westchester Avenue and Interstate 287, will offset 5 percent of the building’s total electricity usage as well as up to 25 percent during peak production, according to Morgan Stanley representatives.
“We continually look for ways to reduce energy and our carbon footprint,” said James Cullen, vice president of engineering operations at Morgan Stanley. “This is the first project of this magnitude.”
Cullen admitted that, while the project wasn’t the most financially-viable, it was important in terms of environmental impact. He cited the projected 400 tons of carbon emissions offset annually as evidence.
“Normally, we’ll look at projects and look at their viability,” Cullen said. “This project didn’t fall into our normal criteria, but we made the commitment to do it anyway, and I think it tells a great story.”
The project is a collaboration between Morgan Stanley’s corporate services team and its
commodities solar desk, known as MS Solar. Funding for the project was provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, known as NYSERDA, as well as partially by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s N.Y. Sun initiative, a public-private partnership to expand the usage of solar panels in the state.
Peter Douglas, a co-director of the research and development department at NYSERDA, cited projects like the ones at Morgan Stanley as a signal for future widespread acceptance of photovoltaic, or PV, technologies.
“It’s a signal that the basic PV technology is moving into broader market acceptance,” Douglas said. “Renewable technologies are very exciting and when they become unique and ubiquitous, that’s really when it starts to pay off for society.”
Photovoltaic technology converts solar radiation into electricity through solar panels. It is one of the most rapidly growing renewable energy sources in the world as businesses and residencies begin to adapt the tech. Douglas, who has been with NYSERDA since 1987, said that, thanks to dramatic decreases in the price of PV technology over the last decade alone, private sectors have been coming together with organizations like NYSERDA to create innovative approaches.
“There will continue to be improvement in the pricing of PV, a better rationalization of institutional processes that allow landowners to develop their properties to include PV, basically to make the whole process smother and faster,” Douglas said. “All to give a deeper market expansion.”
When thanking the Town of Harrison during the event, Cullen described the process as a learning curve for both the town and Morgan Stanley due to the scope of the project and technologies considered.
“It’s really the first solar project of this magnitude that has even been done in the county,” Town Councilman Fred Sciliano, a Republican, said. “It made sense; it was using vacant property on their own property, and I think it’s a good thing.”
Sciliano cited Morgan St-an-ley’s initiatives as beneficial to the town, not only from a tax-based perspective, but thanks to conservation of energy, particularly during peak times like the summer. According to Cullen, Morgan Stanley will install a 250-kilowatt fuel cell at their Westchester site in the near-future.