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Glenridge unveils solar panels

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At a time when Queens senior centers have had to tighten their belts, Glenridge Senior Center in Ridgewood has found a way to keep on its lights at half the price.

Late last month the center, which is located at 59-03 Summerfield Street, unveiled its new photovoltaic solar panel power system. Albert Juszczak, executive director at Glenridge Senior Center, said the new system includes about 60 solar panels, installed on the roof, that deliver a 600-volt current to the center.

“That’s as strong as you get on a third-rail subway,” he said.

Juszczak said the project was the brainchild of Paul Kerzner, president of the board of directors at the center. Kerzner is a longtime environmental activist. He advocated for planting trees in New York City back 25 to 30 years agoand had solar panels installed on the roof of his own house.

“He’s always been on the cutting edge of whatever can be done in order to save more of the environment,” Juszczak said.

More than three years ago, Kerzner argued for solar panels on the senior roof, saying it would save the senior center money as well as help the air and environment. In a process that took 2 1/2 years, the center applied for a grant through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Economic Development Council, which was secured by former state Sen. Serphin Maltese. The center also applied for and received a loan to secure the grant through Astoria Federal Savings, which Juszczak said was fortunate.

“Not all banks will give nonprofits loans,” he said.

After the funds were secured, the center hired Solar Energy Systems — a Greenpoint, Brooklyn, business that installs solar panels for commercial properties — to do the work, Juszczak said. The overall work cost $142,000, about $100,000 of which came from the grant, and the rest of which came from a grant to Solar Energy Systems, meaning the center paid no money at all for it.

Juszczak said the new system generates 23 1/2 kwh. It will save the center $1,000 a month in electric bills. Without the system, the center pays around $2,000 a month.

“The system should be well-maintained,” Kerzner said. “It should work for another 35 to 40 years.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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