It might take 1.21 gigawatts to travel through time (according to Back to the Future), but it only takes 7.2 megawatts to become the largest solar rooftop in New York state, and it's right here in the Hudson Valley.

The project, which cost north of $8 million, was both privately and publicly funded as part of New York's commitment to increasing clean energy production. Over 17,000 solar panels that will push out 8.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) annually are now baking in the summer sun. Kilowatts and megawatts sound fancy, but what does is actually mean?

17,000 solar panels were recently installed in Montgomery, NY (Kristi Krasovetz)
17,000 solar panels were recently installed in Montgomery, NY (Kristi Krasovetz)

What Exactly is a Kilowatt Hour?

A kilowatt-hour measures the amount of energy it takes to run a 1,500-watt (one kilowatt) machine for one hour. A typical refrigerator, for example, consumes roughly 4 kWh daily. That means that power harvested over 365 days from the newly-installed solar panels could keep our favorite kitchen appliance running for roughly 242 years.

A bird's-eye view of the massive project (Kristi Krasovetz)
A bird's-eye view of the massive project (Kristi Krasovetz)

New York's Largest Solar Roof Project

Medline Industries, touted as "the nation’s largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of medical products" hosts the plethora of panels at their Montgomery, NY location in Orange County. They say that the newly-installed roof at their distribution center "exemplifies our dedication to making healthcare more sustainable for providers and their patients in the state".

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While the power produced by the panels is impressive, it's still just one step towards a massive goal set by the state of New York. The goal of producing six gigawatts of clean energy in New York by 2025 means that more than 830 similarly-sized roofs would also need to be created.

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