12/21/13 3:00pm
12/21/2013 3:00 PM

FILE PHOTO |  Nearly 85 percent of the Greenport School is covered with solar panels.

In addition to putting solar panels on the town’s closed landfill on Youngs Avenue, for which a request for proposals was recently issued, the Riverhead Town Board on Thursday discussed the possibility of allowing solar panels in a number of town parking lots, much like Suffolk County has done at the county center.

Although the proposal is still in its early stages, the board went over a list of potential sites for solar panels at its work session on Thursday.

Sites the board majority liked included parking lots at the EPCAL ballfield parking lot, Town Hall West on Pulaski Street, Railroad Avenue, Town Hall, the police station, and lots between Roanoke and East Avenues and between Griffing and Roanoke Avenues.

Supervisor Sean Walter opposed most of the downtown sites.

Rejected sites included the Bayberry Park parking lot in Wading River, the Wading River Highway Yard, around a sump at Edwards and Riley Avenues, the skate park parking lot, the Maple Avenue parking lot, behind the Methodist Church, and the Jamesport Boat Ramp parking lot.

The Town Board received about seven proposals for the landfill solar field, and hopes to select one by the end of the year.

10/29/11 12:08pm
10/29/2011 12:08 PM

NEWS REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An energy company has plans to place solar panels on Riverhead's capped landfill.

Riverhead Town’s troubled landfill on Youngs Avenue has been a financial drain in recent years, but officials now are planning to unveil a strategy they hope will turn it into a money maker.
The Town Board on Thursday will hear a presentation to install solar panels on the landfill, a plan that one town official says could generate enough energy to power all of the town’s facilities.
“We could take a financial disaster and turn it into a plus,” said Councilman George Gabrielsen, who has been working on the project with a Sag Harbor-based company called Long Island Green Energy.
The 76-acre landfill  was closed and then capped several years ago, after a failed attempt at reclamation  exhausted its entire $40 million budget after  only one-third complete. Supervisor Sean Walter has frequently said the town pays about $3.5 million per year in landfill debt service.
The solar panels would generated an estimated 10 to 11 megawatts of power, about the same amount the town government uses, according to Mr. Gabrielsen.
“We spend $2.2 million a year on electricity, it’s out of control,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.
Carlos De La Torre, senior vice president of Long Island Green Energy, said the company came across the Riverhead landfill while working on installing wind energy on area farms and learned about it by the growers.
Long Island Green Energy is proposing to lease the land from the town, and sell the energy generated at a cost that could be about 25 percent less than what LIPA charges, Mr. De La Torre said.
The project would include an educational component, possibly at Town Hall, with kiosks and instructors explaining how solar energy works, according to Chris Lettman, a business consultat for Long Island Green Energy.
The proposal would need LIPA approval, he said, adding that negotiations are underway.
Mr. Gabrielsen said that while the town has been working with Long Island Green Energy on the solar project, the town will still need to put out a request for proposals to see if other companies are interested.
He expects the town will be able to lease the landfill to a solar company for about $500,000 per year. The company selected would be responsible for construction costs, he said.
Town engineer Ken Testa said it’s not certain yet how much of the landfill can be covered in solar panels since parts of it are sloped. He said the town could still have a planned walking trail on the site along with the solar panels.
Mr. Lettman said the solar project must be  careful not to puncture the plastic cap that was installed on top of the landfill.
The idea of putting solar panels on the town landfill is not new.
A New Jersey company called New Age Energy made a similar proposal in 2009,  although for only about 20 acres. That plan never came to fruition. The landfill was mentioned as a site for solar panels when LIPA put out a request for potential locations, but it was not among the sites ultimately selected.

10/04/10 4:06pm
10/04/2010 4:06 PM

The owner of a Aquebogue-based solar company has taken steps to launch an international nonprofit foundation dedicated to educating youth on solar energy.

The foundation, Solar Pioneer International Inc., is seeking grants and donations to fund its first major project, a solar-powered boat that doubles as a classroom to give rides up and down the Peconic River and into the Peconic bays while teaching passengers about the waterways and how the boat uses solar energy.

“It’s an environmentally clean way to run a boat on the bays with no gasoline and no pollution,” said Gary Minnick, the owner of Go Solar who is launching the foundation. “We’re all trying to protect the bays nowadays.”

Board members of the foundation are hoping to dock the boat in downtown Riverhead, and are seeking Riverhead Town’s help in applying for grants.

“We believe solar is still in infancy and needs a lot of education,” Mr Minnick said, adding that he envisions the foundation providing educational services overseas eventually. “We’re going to try to build high-value educational systems to educate the public and solar energy and its variety of uses.”

Solar-powered energy replaces fossil fuels, reducing the number of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. The boat the group is hoping to build will run purely on power from the sun. Instead of a canopy, the boat will have a flat top of modules. When sunlight hits the modules, electricity is instantly generated, explained Adam Eberhardt, photovoltaic systems engineer at Go Solar. It would remain docked on rainy days.

Passengers on the boat will learn about aquatic ecology and can monitor gauges that show how much power the boat is using as well as how much power the sun is generating.

The solar-powered boat, which seats 20, will also be less noisy than traditional boats. The electric motor produces a quiet hum, according to the staff at Go Solar.

“All you hear is water splashing,” Mr. Minnick said.

Other products of Mr. Minnick’s solar company include a portable power device called Solar Traveler and a classroom called Sunshack that has been showcased on the Riverhead riverfront.

A classroom on wheels, it is equipped with a solar electric system, a solar water heater and a windmill. Mr. Minnick has taken the classroom to schools and events and invited people to walk through it and learn about solar energy.

The Solar Traveler has been used to replace gasoline-powered energy at events such as the Riverhead Blues Festival and the Garden of Eve garlic festival.

The solar-powered boat, which will be wheelchair-accessible, should cost about $75,000. Mr. Minnick said the boat will be built in Florida and completed in April or May, when it will be driven up the coast to Riverhead, stopping at marinas to give people rides along the way.

Go Solar, Mr. Minnick’s company, previously built three less-expensive solar-powered boats. The third made history as the first to go around all of Long Island.

“We’ve proven to everybody we can do this,” he said

Samantha@northshoresun.com