Grant Cottage switches to solar during Earth Week | Local News

MOREAU, N.Y. — Grant Cottage is now off the grid, following a switch to solar during Earth Week.

Set atop Mount McGregor in Saratoga County, the National Historic Landmark known as the final home of Civil War Commanding General of the U.S. Army and 18th U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant has joined the renewable energy era.

A new solar powered micro-grid is now providing 100 percent of the electricity needed by the two-story residence and visitors center at the site, according to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The $400,000 project, supported by funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s On-site Energy Manager Program, includes 90 solar panels with a rated output of 34.2 kilowatts, as well as 48 batteries for storage of power for later use. The battery storage system will enable Grant Cottage to become the first state park facility to disconnect completely from the electric energy grid.

State Parks staff of trained solar technicians performed the installation, which includes a generator for emergency use.

Previously, the Grant Cottage site was receiving electricity through utility lines from the nearby former Mount McGregor Correctional Facility.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, during a press conference at the new solar array, explained a bit about the history of the site, including when it first welcomed electricity in the late 1800s.

“General Grant was fascinated by new technology,” he said, “and I think actually today he would be thrilled to see that we’re taking this new step to move this forward.”

Kulleseid, in a press release, shared that this project reflects the department’s commitment to grow the use of renewable energy and reduce reliance on energy from fossil fuels and its climate-changing emissions.

“Grant Cottage is now part of the solution under the state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to derive 70 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2030,” he said.

Since 2012, State Parks has installed 33 solar array projects at facilities across New York, and the end of this year will cover about 15 percent of its total statewide energy consumption through solar power. By 2027, Parks has a goal of covering half of its electricity needs through renewable energy.

Governor Cuomo’s ambitious climate goals, as mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), puts the state on a path to a carbon-neutral economy across all sectors. The Climate Act also establishes a goal to achieve a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040.

The state’s clean energy targets include installing nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035, six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030. It builds on New York’s unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including over $4 billion invested in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2019, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011.

New York plans to build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that disadvantaged communities receive at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments. The state has a 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) president and CEO Doreen M. Harris also shared her excitement for the local solar initiative.

“This project, located at an amazing historic landmark, demonstrates that historically significant structures can be brought up to modern times through the incorporation of clean energy resources like these, and preserve these landmarks and natural resources for generations to come,” she said at the event. “The state, collectively, is leaving no stone unturned as we seek to achieve the goals of our Climate Act and in our fight against climate change.”

Training assistance for the solar project was provided by staff from Hudson Valley Community College.

Commending New York’s renewable energy efforts, HVCC president Roger Ramsammy said the school is glad to be part of this movement.

“Somebody has the training, and that’s what we are all about,” he said, pledging that the college will help by creating the talent necessary to support the state in achieving its upcoming goals.

Senator Daphne Jordan and Assemblymember Carrie Woerner also expressed their enthusiasm about the project.

“Grant’s Cottage is a beloved U.S. National Historic Landmark, State Historical site, and an incredible cultural and regional treasure that I’m proud to have in my 43rd Senate District,” Jordan said in a press release. “Today’s announcement that Grant’s Cottage will be going entirely off the grid and be the first State Park facility to do so is a fantastic development.

“The fact that Hudson Valley Community College, which is also part of my Senate District, was part of this special project by contributing training assistance is also wonderful to see. I commend State Parks Commissioner Kulleseid, and NYSERDA President Harris, for this successful, forward-looking collaboration that will utilize renewable energy to help preserve our cherished past for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of future generations.”

“This project is an exciting blend of the past and the future,” Woerner said in the release. “I applaud this creative and practical innovation using current technology to help sustain this important historic site.”

Open to the public seasonally by the Friends of the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage, visitors can tour the home’s first-floor original furnishings, decorations, and personal items belonging to Grant, who went to Mount McGregor while diagnosed with terminal throat cancer to complete his memoirs for six weeks immediately prior to his death in July 1885.

Tours are scheduled to resume for the season in May 2021.

More information about Grant Cottage is available online at

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