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Riverhead Town wary of new solar projects at EPCAL

06/01/2016 9:00 AM |

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Having yet to see any progress or revenue from a solar energy company that LIPA selected in December 2014 to operate at Riverhead Town’s Enterprise Park at Calverton, the Town Board held off last Thursday on awarding additional contracts for similar projects.

Board members said they feared doing so would tie up property at EPCAL for years, possibly blocking other potential land deals. They did, however, agree to award a contract for a solar project at the site of the town’s former landfill on Youngs Avenue.

That contract, which is subject to LIPA approval, was to BQ Energy LLC of Poughkeepsie, which submitted the only response to the town’s April 5 request for proposals for energy projects at the former landfill.

BQ Energy’s proposal would pay the town $6,500 per year per acre for 12.6 acres, which equals $81,900 in annual rent. They would undertake a 2.52-megawatt solar energy project.

“Right now, we’re spending around $60,000 per year in routine maintenance costs at the landfill, so this will pretty much cover that,” town attorney Ken Testa said in a May 19 work session discussion on the proposals.

In December 2014, LIPA selected Hecate Energy’s proposal to build a solar energy facility at EPCAL in a deal town officials estimated would net the town about $750,000 per year in rent over 20 years.

That project has yet to commence so the town hasn’t received any revenue from it, despite including anticipated funds from the deal in its 2015 and 2016 budgets. Mr. Testa said the problem is that LIPA doesn’t have any substations in the area with available capacity to take on the additional energy. LIPA also selected three other private solar projects for Calverton in late 2014, none of which have moved forward.

Town Supervisor Sean Walter said he’s concerned that selecting future solar or renewable energy projects for EPCAL without a promise that LIPA will build an additional substation there will only tie up the town-owned land, which could conceivably be sold to other potential buyers.

The town received three proposals to undertake solar energy projects at EPCAL in response to an April 5 request for proposals.

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Photo: The former town landfill. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

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