Greenport mayor: What if Riverhead, Southold came off the LIPA grid?

Riverhead and Southold towns could come off the Long Island Power Authority grid and save residents money while making more electricity available to the rest of the island, where most consumers rely on LIPA.

Those are the thoughts of Greenport Mayor David Nyce, a longtime proponent of green energy. He sees wind turbines, which could be built in Greenport, giving the whole North Fork energy independence.

The concept drew applause from state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) at last Thursday’s annual environmental roundtable in Selden, an event he holds every year with elected and appointed officials, environmentalists, community members, sportsmen and others.

“I’ve always thought outside of the box and I appreciate people who are creative and think out of the box,” the senator said in praise of Mr. Nyce’s suggestion, which he pitched at the event.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who did not attend, was skeptical. “I don’t think the technology is anywhere near doing anything like that,” he commented Tuesday.

Mr. Nyce has had discussions with Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, who says he has been eager to explore alternative and renewable energy sources.

“The village is in a good position because it owns its own distribution system,” Mr. Russell commented this week. “We’re certainly working together” to explore all options, he said.

What’s stopping Mr. Nyce from getting very far with his idea is a restriction imposed by the New York Power Authority, which regulates the village-owned utility, Greenport Electric. To protect the profitability of upstate hydroelectric suppliers, NYPA prohibits all municipal utilities from producing electricity for their own consumers.

Mr. Nyce said he has identified two sites in Greenport that he believes are well situated to produce enough energy to make the plan viable. One is the former scavenger waste plant on Moore’s Lane. Southold Town has removed the plant and restored the site. The second is at Clark’s Beach, near the Audubon Society’s Red House on Route 48. The village still owns part of the beach and could erect a tower there, the mayor said.

On another topic, Mr. Nyce suggested at the roundtable that East End villages and towns cooperate in creating a single design that could be employed at street endings throughout the area to handle stormwater runoff.

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