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Whitehall farm harvests sunshine to power Gore Mountain

December 01, 2017 06:34 PM

WHITEHALL - John Millett has been farming for 40 years -- cows, horses and goats.

Lately, things have changed.

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"Just growing hay now and farming the rays of the sun," said Millett, as he took a break from stacking firewood.

His new crops stand about eight-feet tall in the fields of his 80-acre Whitehall farm. They are nearly 15,000 solar panels -- and the energy produced by them is all spoken for.

The power made here fires up the chairlifts, lights and snowmakers at Gore Mountain in North Creek, a 75-minute drive away.

"The power gets made through the panels and energy credits are awarded to us, but this power goes directly into our grid," said James "Bone" Bayse, general manager of Gore Mountain.

It's the largest solar farm dedicated to a ski area in the U.S. It supplies 85-percent of Gore's electricity needs.

"This project is not only adding clean energy to our region, but it's directly in line with our goal of combating climate change," said Emily Stanton, marketing manager at Gore.

Millett says he'd never intended to be harvesting sunshine, but when Gore's solar vendors approached him about using his rolling farmland with its southern exposure, he decided to listen because it was getting harder and more expensive to farm.

"It was either find something or plan on downsizing and this has given me the opportunity to keep the land."

It's also given Gore a chance to save money and the environment.

"Our goal is to have long, snow-filled winters, and how are we going to continue to do that in the future? This is the way that we're going to be able to do that," said Bayse.

Millett said he likes that his farm is providing clean, renewable energy with little or no impact on the environment.

"It's good for everybody," he said.

Credits

Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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