Solar panels headed to Knights Building at Fairgrounds next month

Photos by Ginny Kropf: (Left) Robert Batt, director of Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, points to the Knights Building at the fairgrounds where solar panels are scheduled to be installed Sept. 25. (Right) Andy Young, a building contractor, right, and his crew, Josh Yousey and Jacob Rowland look at the roof of the Knights Building, where they just finished adding supports to the rafters to accommodate new solar panels.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 24 August 2023 at 6:00 am

KNOWLESVILLE – The installation of solar panels on the roof of the Knights Building at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds has finally been given the go-ahead.

Seventy-seven solar panels will be installed on the Knights Building roof, and will take about a week to complete. The installation should start Sept. 25.

The panels were scheduled to be ready before this year’s fair, but inspection in the spring revealed the roof rafters were not strong enough to accommodate solar panels, so additional support was needed.

This was a cost not anticipated, said Robert Batt, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension. However, he said the Extension board built an amount into the budget to allow for them to contribute to the cost of the solar panels. The additional cost for the supports was $8,000, above the $65,000 expense for the panels.

Batt got the idea for the solar panels from another Extension director he met two years ago at a YMCA camp. That person informed Batt of a man in California who founded Everybody Solar, a company which helps non-profits solicit donations for solar panels. Everybody Solar will contact companies and foundations in the applicant’s area and raise the amount needed to fund their project.

“They were originally scheduled to be completed by June,” Batt said. “I was hoping they could be installed by the fair, so people would look around and say, ‘This is all powered by the sun.’ Now we’ll have to wait until next year.”

Batt estimates the power sold back to the grid will take care of the fairgrounds’ power bill.

He said they will still accept donations toward the extra $8,000 cost, so the board doesn’t have to come up with all of it.