STEAMBURG, NY – The Seneca Nation of Indians cut the ribbon today on a new solar array, which it describes as an important step toward its goal of making its territories energy independent.

The $3.4 million array, the construction of which took six months to complete, covers seven acres near the Steamburg Community Center on Center Road.

The array, capable of producing generate up to 2.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, is comprised of 5,746 solar panels distributed into 19 rows. It can provide enough energy to power 250 homes, according to the Seneca Nation.

"Of course we want to build more,” said Seneca Nation of Indians President Todd Gates. “We're not taking care of all our energy needs, and we'll do that in some point in the future, and we're still planning on expansion," Gates told WGRZ-TV.

The completion of the project couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Anthony Giacobbe, who serves as the director of Seneca Energy, the Seneca Nation’s wholly-owned energy company responsible for all energy investment and development initiatives.

“In April of 2018, National Grid is increasing rates for customers by double digit percentages, so we are locking in our stability and locking in rates while actually being compensated for the (power) generation and passing that savings on to our residents," Giacobbe said.

The solar array represents the second energy project to be completed by the Seneca Nation in the past year. The other is a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine in Irving.

Between the two projects, the Nation now claims that it is generating enough energy, to supply nearly half of the power it needs for its government buildings through so called renewable sources.