Board OK’s energy proposals to send to LIPA

Riverhead Town Hall (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Riverhead Town Hall (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town Board members selected five energy proposals on town property that will be “pre-qualified” and submitted to the Long Island Power Authority, which has issued two requests for proposal for energy facilities.

The actual proposals still have not been released to the public, so it’s not known how much money the projects plan to pay to the town, and whether they propose leasing or buying town land. According to Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz, since this is not a final award of a contract, the town is not required to release the proposals.

Deadlines for LIPA’s proposals are due by March 31. The first RFP was for natural gas-fired peak energy plants, which only are used during peak electricity times, and battery storage facilities.

These proposals were only intended for a 94-acre site in EPCAL, near the south end of the unused western runway, although the town is limiting solar proposals to just 45 acres at EPCAL. The second RFP was for renewal energy, such as solar, hydrogen fuel cells and battery-based electric energy, and was intended for both EPCAL and the town’s Youngs Avenue landfill, which was closed and capped years ago.

According to Councilman George Gabrielsen, who proposed the energy park and predicted it could bring the town around $2 million a year in revenue from leasing the land, there were four responses to the first RFP and the board picked two of them to send to LIPA.

The second request received six responses, four of which were picked and will be submitted to LIPA. The reason the town picked so many proposals to send to LIPA is because the town doesn’t know what types of proposals LIPA is seeking, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

“By putting them all in, we are covering ourselves,” he said.

LIPA plans to select which proposals it likes in December, and the proposed facilities aren’t expected to be operating until 2018 or 2019, according to LIPA’s RFP. The proposals chosen by the Town Board were submitted by the Haugland Group , which is looking to do solar only at the EPCAL site; Hudson Energy Development, which is proposing a solar facility at EPCAL; Fuel Cell Energy, which is proposing a fuel cell facility at EPCAL and at the landfill; Caithness Energy, who is looking to do a natural gas fired peaker plant and battery storage at EPCAL; and Hecate Energy, which is looking to do a gas-fired peaker plant, fuel cells, battery storage and solar, all at EPCAL, and battery storage and solar at the landfill, according to Mr Gabrielsen.

Only the natural gas-fired peak energy plant would generate any type of emissions, but town engineer Ken Testa says natural gas is one of the cleanest forms of energy. What is battery storage or fuel cells? According to Mr. Testa, “battery storage involves a large array of lead-acid batteries that are charged up at night when demand is low and during the day.

When demand is high, they discharge the batteries to make electricity.” Fuel cells, he said, “operate on hydrogen and the fuel that feeds them is natural gas. They create steam and process natural gas into hydrogen and then the hydrogen fuels the fuel cells to make electricity, and steam, which is reused to break down natural gas into hydrogen and oxygen.”

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