By Andrew Rudansky
With Americas’ dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels a hot-button issue in Washington, Americans are turning to alternative sources of energy in droves. SunStream USA, founded in 2005, offers a variety of renewable energy products for these customers, ranging from geothermal heating and cooling systems to solar electric panels. Brian Tymann, Director of Operations at SunStream USA, calls the young company “a full service renewable energy product and service provider.”
SunStream USA, one of seven companies in the J. Tortorella Group, owned by CEO John Tortorella, has made it their goal to help the environment by providing the East End with greener energy alternatives. Tortorella started SunStream USA because, as he said, “We have so many energy options, and we need to be more efficient and cleaner in our lives…it makes a lot of business sense and a huge amount of environmental sense.”
The company practices what it preaches, making their office building an example of the economic and ecological benefits of their products. The J. Tortorella Group building, located on 1764 County Road 39, Southampton, which houses SunStream USA gathers 50 percent of all its power needs from solar panels on its roof. Tymann says that these solar panels save the company tens of thousands of dollars each year.
“We can show our clients very simply how our energy bills go down every year,” said Tymann.
Tymann said all of their alternative energy products are ecologically smart and can save consumers money, but it is solar panels in particular that are the most popular. Currently solar energy and heating products makes up about 85 percent of their business.
Tymann said that what separates SunStream USA from other renewable energy companies is their involvement with the solar panels throughout the whole process. SunStream USA not only sells, installs and maintains, but makes their own SunStream USA brand solar panels. Because they make their own panels, a practice done by only a handful of companies in the country and no one else on Long Island, they are able to save their clients money, he said.
The initial cost of a solar panel system can seem steep, starting at around $18,000, but with government tax credits and LIPA rebates that cost can be slashed as much as 65 percent. Tymann said that the average consumer’s power bill increases an average of five percent every year, while a consumer with a solar panel system gets most of their energy from the sun for free. Tymann showed how the cost of installing solar panels on your roof pays for itself in six to seven years.
“Nine out of ten calls we get are from people looking to cut the cost of electric bills,” said Mary McPartland, Energy Consultant at SunStream USA, “and this is a way to do it.”
Tymann and McPartland, believe the BP Horizon offshore oil rig gusher in the Gulf of Mexico has clarified Americas need for clean alternative energy.
“Everybody who works in this business feels a sense of tragic loss,” said McPartland about the disaster, “and people are beginning to ask, what can I do in my home to get off the oil cycle?”
“I’m not sure what the ramifications are going to be exactly, but they are going to be huge,” said Tortorella about the oil gusher. SunStream USA believes that the environmental movement is approaching critical mass, with more and more individuals moving towards alternative energy and green living.
“It’s a slow process of education,” Tymann said, “very few people know how electricity is made.” That is something that SunStream USA is trying to change. “In general when people ask me why I am involved in renewal energy I say, it just makes sense. Oil is a finite resource and our habits have to change,” he said.
With our planetary fossil fuels running out and disasters like the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, it seems like a change in our countries energy practices might come. Tymann thinks so, “I don’t think that it is a question of will it happen, but when.”