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New York Light Energy
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Sunny outlook for a Latham company
Solar power business, with a twist, is booming for New York Light Energy
By Larry Rulison Business writer
Published 12:01 a.m., Thursday, April 21, 2011
COLONIE -- Alex Lieb's work is everywhere in the Capital Region, but most of it is out of sight.
Lieb, vice president of development for a Latham-based company called New York Light Energy, has been quietly populating the rooftops of local businesses with solar electric arrays.
For Lieb and his ownership team, which includes his son as well as two local car dealers, business is booming. And he's not even selling the solar systems.
He sells his clients energy from the sun.
New York Light Energy, which was founded in 2009 and is located on Loudon Road in Latham, operates differently than other solar installation companies. Instead of selling or leasing solar systems to businesses, the company builds and operates the systems themselves.
It then signs 20-year power purchase agreements with the businesses, selling them the renewable energy created on their roofs at a significant discount to utility prices, saving hundreds of dollars in monthly electricity costs -- if not more -- as it offsets their utility bills.
Customers include companies like Tri-City Fitness, Mooradians Furniture, Capara's Auto Body and Mohawk Honda. Lieb's company expects to have 65 systems installed throughout the state by the end of the year. The systems, which use Kyocera solar panels, retail for hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
"You've driven by these places a lot, but you've never seen the systems," Lieb said.
New York Light Energy's business plan is pretty simple and relies heavily on state and federal subsidies for solar electric systems, which offset more than half of the up-front costs. New York Light Energy then sells the electricity to the customer at a significant discount to utility prices, which is where the company gets its revenues, expected to reach $10 million this year. That's more than double 2010 sales figures.
"Our growth has been phenomenal," Lieb said.
New York Light Energy has also been able to take advantage of an alternative energy grant program set up by Colonie Industrial Development Agency that offers additional subsidies for solar installations, says Joe LaCivita, executive director of the IDA. Lieb's company received $125,000, which allowed him to add five new full-time employees. He's now up to 14 total.
Joe Clemente, owner of Tri-City Fitness, had his solar arrays installed in August. He says it was an easy sell and his system is producing more electricity than he originally expected, meaning he's getting more than he pays for in his fixed rate contract.
"It's pretty much a no-brainer," said Clemente. "It was an easy decision."
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830 New Loudon Road
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