Baltimore outfit offers to install free solar & wind light downtown

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Councilman George Gabrielsen (right) had contacted the renewable energy company from Baltimore about potential projects in Riverhead Town.

A Baltimore company is offering to install a solar/wind-powered street light next to the Roots & Rivers Community Garden on West Main Street for free in hopes of drawing attention to their product.

Alex Wenger and Yakov Tkachman of SavWatt USA of Baltimore met with Riverhead councilmen George Gabrielsen and Jim Wooten, as well as town engineer Ken Testa, Friday morning to discuss the project.

The company is proposing to build their “Eco-pole, LED Street Light” at the northwest corner the community garden site, adjacent to the newly restored comfort station.

The structure would comprise a 60-watt LED bulb, a 180-watt solar panel and a 300-watt micro wind turbine, all on the same pole.

“We hope this will be like the poster child for this technology on Long Island,” Mr. Wenger said. His company has installed the same device in Staten Island, D.C. and Maryland, but not on Long Island.

SavWatt said the company was drawn to Riverhead by Mr. Gabrielsen, who called them about potentially working with the town on projects, Mr. Wenger said.

“Riverhead can be a pioneer here, so that other municipalities will come here to see this,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

Had the town had to pay for the  street light and installation, it probably would have cost between $10,000 and $12,000, Mr. Wenger said.

The energy generated by the solar and wind energy would power the street light, Mr. Wenger said. The LED light is 10 times brighter than the traditional flourescent light, but it would be under a shell and directed downward so as to be in compliance with the town’s “dark skies” ordinance, which seeks to limit light pollution.

The wind turbine would be what’s known as a savonius wind turbine, Mr. Wenger said. This type of turbine doesn’t have blades, such as the large ones seen on some farms have, and doesn’t make as much noises as those turbines. These turbines have two scoop-like devices that spin vertically instead of horizontally, so it doesn’t matter what direction the wind is blowing, he explained.

“It’s also safe for birds,” Mr. Tkachman added.

The company makes poles that are 15-, 20- and 25-feet high, which is about the same as normal street lights, Mr. Wenger said.

The solar and wind powered light, once constructed, would cost nothing to operate, Mr. Wenger said. It also is cheaper to install than a traditional street light because it doesn’t have to be hooked up to an electric system.

Mr. Gabrielsen said the town is considering changing all it’s street lights to LED in the future, but doesn’t have the manpower to do so now.

He suggested “eco-pole” technology might be used in other street lights in the future.

“There’s a couple places in the town where we don’t have electricity but where we’d like to have street lights,” Mr. Testa said. “This could be a good application to use in those areas.”

Mr. Wenger said he believes the project could be completed before the end of the year.

The Riverhead Town Board has not yet taken any official action toward allowing SavWatt to install the device.

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