PSEG eyes substation at EPCAL to handle incoming solar power

Solar panels being constructed on the east side of Edwards Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Solar panels being constructed on the east side of Edwards Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Foreseeing the megawatts of solar energy to come in the area, PSEG Long Island and the Long Island Power Authority are interested in building an electrical substation at the town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton.

PSEG Long Island spokesman Jeffrey Weir confirmed in an interview that the company is interested in the EPCAL site, and according to Councilman George Gabrielsen, officials from PSEG/LIPA have asked permission to go on the site and take soil samples — something the town is willing to let them do.

Late last year, LIPA chose several solar energy projects that had been responses to a request for proposals for renewable energy such as solar, wind, batter storage and fuel cells. The company chose only solar projects, but said it would issue a second request for proposals to include other types of energy in the future.

“What happened is that they approved too many projects in this area and there’s not enough substations to take the energy they would create,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

One of the solar projects which was approved, from Hecate Energy, was proposed in the town’s 90-acre “energy park” — a concept Mr. Gabrielsen has been pushing to put the town-owned land to use. There were four others selected that were proposed to be located on private property in Calverton, where two privately-owned solar energy farms are already under construction.

PSEG/LIPA is looking for just five acres within the 90-acre energy park, on which about 60 acres would be used by Hecate’s solar energy park.

Whether they would seek to lease or buy and how much they would pay the town is not determined yet, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

“That conversation will probably come within the next couple of weeks,” he said.

The Hecate deal is viewed by town officials as a possible solution to the town’s budget crisis if it can be completed by the end of the year. The deal is almost complete but must wait for the town to complete its environmental impact study of its proposed 50-lot subdivision at EPCAL, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

In addition to Hecate, LIPA approved four other solar projects on private land in Calverton.

These include:

• A a 30-acre property on Main Road in Calverton, immediately east of the Calverton Industry sand mine, which will be done by a company called Community Energy Solar.

• A 49-acre property on Main Road in Calverton, immediately east of the Jewish cemetery, which will be done by a company called SYBAC;

• A solar project on the site of the former Calverton Links golf course, and another on property just west of Calverton Links, both of which will be done by s-Power Solar, which is also constructing a previously-approved solar farm across the street on Edwards Avenue.

The other solar farm already under construction is just east of the Riverhead Charter School, and is being done by a company called STR.

That project is completed screened from the road.

Mr. Weir could not immediately comment on the status of those projects or when the second request for proposals will be issued.

Mr. Gabrielsen said the town plans to submit proposed sites at EPCAL when the second RFP is issued, and may even expand the energy park to include the vacant runway and some of the lots planned to the west of the runway.