Solar deal at town landfall falls apart

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The town dump on Youngs Avenue.

The company that’s been looking to install solar panels on Riverhead Town’s landfill is “walking away” from the project because the Town Board plans to issue a request for proposals for solar energy at the landfill instead of taking its offer.

Long Island Green Energy officials had proposed to lease space on the town’s closed landfill in order to install solar panels. They hoped to sign a 25-year-lease and said the town could make between $310,000 and $500,000 per year, including the lease amount and the estimated energy savings.

They have said they could produce energy that would be 25 percent cheaper than LIPA.

They met with the Town Board on Thursday, where Supervisor Sean Walter and Deputy Town Attorney Ann Marie Prudenti said the town would need to issue a request for proposals to see if other applicants could produce the same services at a better deal.

“My gut reaction is that we should be releasing an RFP,” Mr. Walter said. “It’s not fair not to do an RFP.”

Councilman John Dunleavy said the town issued an RFP when it sought to lease town properties to cellular companies.

“We thought we were coming today to discuss the terms of a lease,” said LIGE’s attorney, Robert Cassandro.

” I feel sorry for you guys because you did all this work,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “We should tell people up-front when we have to go to
an RFP.”

After the meeting, however, Carlos De La Torres, LIGE’s senior vice president, came out of a meeting with the supervisor and said in an interview with a reporter, “We’re walking away.”

He said that to go to RFP would take too long and that there are no incentives available for solar projects on municipal land on Long Island. He said other parts of the state do offer such incentives.

Another partner in the group, Angelo Toscano, said that to go to RFP, the company would need to spend more than $200,000 on engineering plans.

Councilman George Gabrielsen, who had worked on the solar project with LIGE, was disappointed by the decision to require an RFP.

“We’re chasing these guys away,” he said.

LIGE also had said they needed a decision before the end of the year because a federal grant they had obtained would expire after that.

Mr. Walter said there was no way that could be done.

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