LIPA selects EPCAL project; Walter says ‘our ship has come in’

12/17/2014 3:30 PM |


After balancing its budget with $750,000 in projected revenues next year from either selling off or leasing land at the town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton — namely to companies aiming to sell energy to the Long Island Power Authority — Riverhead Town had one project given a green light by LIPA on Wednesday that may end up covering the gap.

On Wednesday, LIPA’s Board of Trustees selected four solar projects from Calverton with which to start negotiating power purchase agreements. While three are with firms planning to lease private lands, one of them was at EPCAL with Hecate Energy, LLC.

Funding from leasing the town-owned property — pending future negotiations — could firm up the part of next year’s budget reliant on land sales or leases at the 2,400-acre property.

“Looking at my preliminary numbers, that should cover it,” Councilman George Gabrielsen said in reaction to news that one company was selected at EPCAL. While the LIPA documents indicate Hecate will buy the land, Mr. Gabrielsen said Hecate has discussed both buying and leasing property EPCAL.


The company proposes to develop, operate, and own a new 7.5 MW solar facility called Riverhead Solar, to be located between the south end of the southwest EPCAL runway and Grumman Boulevard, according to LIPA.

Supervisor Sean Walter was more confident that the news will put Riverhead’s budget in good shape next year.

“Our ship has come in,” he said. “We’re in very good shape.”

The town has the option to lease or sell the land to Hecate. One difference, according to Mr. Gabrielsen, is that a sale would have to wait for the state to get approval for its subdivision at EPCAL.

“If we lease, we can lease tomorrow,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

Mr. Walter said the town could stand to make between $600,000 and $1 million in annual lease payments. If the town sells the land to Hecate, he estimated the town could bring in anywhere between $6 million to $10 million to pay down debt.

Overall, LIPA picked 11 projects, and these projects totaled over 122.1 megawatts of energy, fall less than the 280 mw they had sought in the request for proposals for energy generation. Because of that, LIPA plans to issue another RFP for an additional 160 mw of energy soon.

The councilman, who first proposed a 94-acre energy park at EPCAL last year, said that Hecate had been talking about buying or leasing 60 acres in order to generate 6.5 mw of power. The LIPA documents say they will generate 7.5 mw of power, which Mr. Gabrielsen said could mean additional acreage is needed.

Mr. Walter said “hats off to the councilman. He pushed and has been on top of this.”

While next year’s budget also relies on over $600,000 from Suffolk County in funds related to open space purchases, Mr. Walter said on Wednesday that, “we’re not getting that.”

“It all fills in,” he said. “It all works fine.”

Hecate Energy proposes to use approximately 25,000 single-axis solar panels which on an annual basis would operate at an approximate capacity factor of 20 percent, and they hope to be online by October 19, 2016, according to LIPA.

The town had selected five companies in March to submit to LIPA for consideration for power purchase agreements, and was proposing to either sell or lease land at the designated 94-acre energy park at EPCAL, as well as possibly at the town landfill, to balance its budget.

The proposals submitted by the town included two gas-fired peak energy generating plants as well as three solar projects, two hydrogen fuel cell projects and two battery storage projects.

But LIPA decided in November not to pursue generating plants at all at this time, and ultimately decided to concentrate entirely on solar projects.

The other solar projects on private land in Calverton included the following, all of which are anticipated to be online by the end of 2016, according to LIPA:

• Community Energy Solar, LLC, which proposed to develop, operate, and own a new 10.0 MW solar facility located between 4300-4400 Middle Country Road on the southern side of Route 25 in Calverton, New York. They proposed to use approximately 41,500 fixed tilt solar panels.

• Sybac Solar, LLC, located between 450-500 Edwards Avenue on the western side of the road in Calverton, New York Sybac Solar proposes to use approximately 44,500 fixed tilt solar panels.

• sPower, which proposed to develop, operate, and own a new 20.0 MW solar facility located on two properties, one plot is located between 100-200 Edwards Avenue on the western side of the road and the other plot is between 400-500 Edwards Avenue on the eastern side of the road in Calverton, New York, sPower proposes to use approximately 93,000 fixed tilt solar panels. It’s unclear if they are proposing solar panels on the former Calverton Links golf course, which had an address of 149 Edwards Avenue.

LIPA will negotiate with the representatives of the 11 projects selected and will do an environmental study of those projects before the deals can be formalized and approved by the LIPA trustees. A total of 38 proposals were received by LIPA in response to it RFP for renewable energy, officials said.