Transcending big challenges with smarter solar energy solutions

How DSD helped the City of White Plains transform its community’s energy efficiency and sustainability — and earn extra revenue in the process.

Community solar CASE STUDY

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The Challenge

Since 2014, with the adoption of its Climate Smart Communities Pledge, the City of White Plains, NY, has been firmly committed to increasing energy efficiency and sustainability. But when the City investigated renewable energy as a potential solution, it ran into a snag. The City’s utility rates were so low, it wasn’t economically viable to build — and pay for — a clean energy alternative to traditional electricity.

NY Power Authority

But with the help of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), they found a way. The City and NYPA created an RFP that challenged renewable energy providers to solve this problem through lease agreements. In doing so, the City opened a door of possibility … and DSD walked through it.

DSD City of White Plains Gedney Way, NY Landfill

The Solution

DSD brought a few key capabilities to the table: first, our extensive experience building multiple sites concurrently; second, in-house project funding that offers flexibility with financing; and third, our proprietary canopy water and ice management system technology that not only provides a covered parking structure, but also redirects water and ice to protect individuals and cars.

DSD presented thoughtful design and installation solutions for solar arrays at nine different sites, each with its own challenges. We also offered to own and operate the entire portfolio, while leasing the sites from the City. So rather than paying out for a solar build, the City receives a fixed and predictable source of monthly income for hosting it. And in the end, the City, the surrounding business and its residents could subscribe to these projects and benefit from cleaner, cheaper energy.

The Execution

DSD started the project just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, which presented immediate further challenges to development, design, financing and construction. In addition to access and health safety concerns, global supply chains were upended. Roof upgrades had to be completed at Ebersole Ice Rink prior to solar installation. And two sites needed to integrate innovative battery energy storage technology.

But inspiration struck, as well. Leveraging our solar canopy expertise, DSD designed and installed an enclosed solar canopy to bring protected storage for the City’s water department, helping avoid a significant capital spend in a tight budget year. And at the Gedney Way Recycling Facility, DSD’s innovative team designed the first floating foundation canopy mounted on a landfill cap: a permitted, above-grade solution enabling 33% more solar capacity, which increased lease revenue to the City by nearly 50%.

The City of White Plains is expected to earn about $1 million each year via this new revenue stream, while dramatically reducing its carbon footprint.

The Outcome

Between the additional discount provided by the utility, and the lease payments from DSD, the City is expected to earn about $1 million each year via this new revenue stream. Residents and local businesses can also subscribe to the project and receive a 10% discount in credits applied to their energy bills. This portfolio represents the largest municipal solar development in Westchester County, and beyond that, the citizens of the City can plainly see, across nine different locations, the contribution they’re making in rolling back climate change.

The Impact

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Mayor Tom Roach was honored by the US Conference of Mayors during the 2021 Mayors Climate Protection Awards ceremony.
The City of White Plains has also received the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) Local Government Achievement Award.
The project won POWER Magazine’s 2022 Commercial & Industrial Generation Award.
Finalist Longview Garage Canopy for City of White Plains & Industrial Generation Award.

“I am grateful to NYPA and DSD for their counsel and collaboration during this project.”

Thomas Roach
Mayor, City of White Plains, NY

City of White Plains Mayor Roach

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