City of Cohoes Floating Solar Array

City of Cohoes Leads the Way With New York’s First Floating Solar Array

The City of Cohoes is constructing a floating solar array on its drinking water reservoir to localize power generation for municipal facilities, reduce utility costs for residents, and help meet clean energy goals. Upon completion, this will be the first municipally owned floating solar field in the country and the first floating solar array in New York.

Located on the 10-acre Cohoes Drinking Water Reservoir, the 3.175-megawatt direct current floating solar array will incorporate 540-watt bifacial solar panels, which are designed with solar cells on both sides, enabling the panels to capture sunlight from the front and the back—in this case, sunlight that is reflected off the water in the reservoir.

The solar array will have the capacity to generate more than 4.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity during the first year of its operation. In addition to powering all current city buildings, the extra power will be directed to the high school. Coverage from the installed solar panels will also shade the water, reducing evaporation, algae growth, and the amount of chemicals put into the reservoir.

As a subconsultant on the project, LaBella was responsible for securing permits for the system with the City of Cohoes, the New York Department of Health, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Our team also conducted wetland delineation and other environmental due diligence. Additional responsibilities included design of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), as well as SWPPP and engineer-level inspections during construction.

Construction of the floating solar array began in March 2024 with site and bypass replacement work. Anchor installation is expected to occur in June 2024, with the float system and mooring installation projected to take place from July through November 2024. The project is receiving funding support from multiple sources, including the local utility company, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s NY-SUN Incentives Program.

The City of Cohoes hopes this project motivates municipalities to invest in their own sustainable energy infrastructure and sparks interest in utilizing suitable water surfaces for solar energy generation.