11/12/14 11:45am
11/12/2014 11:45 AM
Supervisor Sean Walter and councilman George Gabrielsen at a recent town board work session. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Supervisor Sean Walter and councilman George Gabrielsen at a recent town board work session. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The lights have been dimmed, but they’re not being turned off.

At least, not yet.

Plans to build at least one peaker plant at the Enterprise Park at Calverton — to produce energy that would be sold to the Long Island Power Authority — are now on hold. But much remains in motion while LIPA decides whether renewable energy projects at the Calverton site are worthwhile, a decision that will affect Riverhead taxpayers directly, since balancing next year’s budget hinges, in part, on lease agreements with private power vendors at EPCAL. (more…)

09/02/14 8:00am
09/02/2014 8:00 AM
This sod farm on the east side of Edwards Avenue, just north of the railroad, may host a 38-acre solar energy farm. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

This sod farm on the east side of Edwards Avenue, just north of the railroad, may host a 38-acre solar energy farm. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Riverhead Town Planning Board approved a preliminary site plan at its meeting last Thursday proposing a solar farm with roughly 30,000 panels on an area of Calverton farmland. (more…)

08/01/14 8:00am
08/01/2014 8:00 AM
Credit: Patrick W. Moore

Credit: Patrick W. Moore

For years people have been talking about solar as a clean alternative energy source, but only recently has the prospect of large-scale solar farms started taking shape on the North Fork.

Two years ago, Long Island Power Authority sought proposals for solar energy projects that would generate 100 megawatts of power —enough to power about 13,000 homes —and 76 solar projects across Long Island were selected in April.

In addition, LIPA and PSEG-Long Island — which manages LIPA’s electric grid — are now seeking additional proposals for projects that would generate 280 MW more in renewable energy, including solar, natural gas and wind.

“One of the main reasons large scale solar development is initiated is because the utilities issue requests for proposals for projects, and that’s exactly what happened on Long Island,” said Chris Wiedemann, director of development for S Power Solar, a West Coast company that had three projects chosen in April by LIPA, one each in Calverton, Southold and Shoreham. In total, 12 projects were chosen that would be located in Manorville and throughout the North Fork. Project owners will be responsible for construction, installation and maintenance costs, which will then be offset by selling power to PSEG-LI.

But only now that solar power is starting to gain momentum are local municipalities catching up to regulating the energy source.

And not everyone is feeling so sunny about it.

Riverhead and Southold towns have both proposed restricting where power-generating solar farms that would sell energy back to PSEG can be built. The restrictions would not apply to farms that generate solar energy to power their own operations.

Both towns decided to limit commercial solar energy production to industrial zones, prohibiting the practice on agricultural parcels.

“This town, the County of Suffolk, and to some extent, the State of New York, have spent tens of millions of dollars preserving the Agricultural Protection Zone in town,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said in discussing the zoning amendments last month. “I think it sends the wrong message that we would now allow this sort of industrialization [solar panel farms] on preserved farmland.”

Southold already adopted the code change in June, and the Riverhead Town Board has scheduled an Aug. 5 public hearing on its proposal.

Riverhead leaders actually based their proposal on Southold’s, which determined that the town’s two industrial zones were the best locations for solar farms — keeping agriculturally-zoned land out of the mix.

“There is a real demand now to locate solar arrays, and we’ve been getting inquiries from solar companies who are very interested in locating them on farmland,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said in an interview. “We didn’t quite go that far yet.”

Last July, LIPA announced that an increased focus on solar power would “help defer, reduce or eliminate the need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars on building new generation, infrastructure, and transmission and distribution lines.”

That announcement came after the utility had already called for 50 MW in solar projects in 2008, while it was calling for its next 100 MW — the request that resulted in the 76 solar arrays currently in the works — and before a request for another 280 MW of solar power last fall. Those bid winners will be announced this December.

All these requests for solar power projects — among other sources of cleaner energy, such as wind or natural gas — are bringing LIPA in accordance with its Electric Resource Plan 2010-2020, which called for reducing emissions by 20 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020, and by 80 percent by the year 2050, benchmarks set by former Governor David Paterson.

07/28/13 10:00am
07/28/2013 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | John and Boanne Wysoczanski’s pool at their Baiting Hollow home has the added feature of deck jets.

Own a pool and on the fence about replacing the pump this season? Consider purchasing a new energy-efficient model now — while the Long Island Power Authority’s rebate of up to $400 is, like the weather, still hot.

LIPA officials said they hope the new mail-in rebate offer will encourage pool owners to replace their single-speed pumps with Energy Star-rated equipment. The updated models operate more efficiently and at the lowest speed necessary to filter swimming pools.

Energy Star was established in 1992 as part of the Clean Air Act and is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program to promote energy conservation. Products earning an Energy Star label have been certified through tests conducted by EPA-recognized laboratories, according to Energy Star’s website.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | After the Wysoczanskis installed a new pool pump, they got a $400 rebate from LIPA.

A traditional pool pump’s motor speeds are typically unchangeable and are usually set higher than is required to circulate water and clear debris, LIPA officials said.

The authority is offering two different mail-in rebates: a $150 rebate for a two-speed pool pump and a $400 rebate for a variable-speed pump.

John Wysoczanski, owner of Islandia Pools in Riverhead, said he took LIPA up on its offer last week and installed a new pump in his own pool in Baiting Hollow.

“A lot more people are thinking about it because of the rebate,” he said. “It cuts down energy costs and cleans more efficiently. It’s a no-brainer.”

Mr. Wysoczanski, who sells Pentair pool pumps priced at least $1,500, said the newer machines use less energy by operating with a magnetic field device and should last between 10 and 15 years.

While energy-efficient pool pumps initially cost more, LIPA officials said customers will see a return on their investment from energy savings over the life of the unit.

LIPA spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler said the new models “minimize energy consumption by up to 90 percent, are extremely quiet, provide maximum water flow and pay for themselves in five years.

“On average, an Energy Star-certified pool pump can save you over $160 per year,” she said.

LIPA began offering rebates in 1999, starting with compact fluorescent bulbs and commercial lighting. Ten years later, several other products were added to the list, including photovoltaics in 2000. One of the newest products for which LIPA is offering in-store rebates is LED bulbs, Ms. Flagler said. She added that LIPA is working to incentivize other products, including energy-efficient clothes dryers.

In addition to the current pool pump rebate program, LIPA is offering $40 to $75 rebates for air conditioners, $40 for dehumidifiers and $50 to $100 for refrigerators. All appliances must also be Energy Star-rated.

LIPA’s pool pump rebate applies only to residential pools and there’s a limit of four rebates per LIPA customer. Purchases must be made between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 and must be installed by a participating dealer in order to qualify. Rebate checks will be processed within six to eight weeks.

For more information about LIPA’s pool pump rebate program, click here.

jennifer@timesreview.com