Tag Archive | "east hampton town"

Rental Registry

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The East Hampton Town Board scheduled two informational meetings about its proposed rental registry law for the work sessions on Tuesday, October 14, in Montauk and on Tuesday, October 21 at Town Hall.

The proposed law would require all rental properties to register with the town before renting out their properties, in order to deal with the problem of illegal rentals and excessive turnover.

Georgica Pond Water Quality Restoration Plan

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Following the closure of Georgica Pond to shellfishing and fishing this summer due to potentially toxic levels of blue-green algae, the East Hampton Town Board, Town Trustees, Village Board and the town Natural Resources Department are working together with engineers and environmentalists to develop a water quality restoration plan.

Kim Shaw, the director of the Natural Resources Department, told the board on Tuesday it is coming up with plans to open the pond to the ocean more frequently and for longer periods of time. The department is also considering developing a watershed management plan. The permit to dredge Georgica Pond must be renewed with the DEC, she said.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell suggested all of the boards adopt resolutions to agree to the outline of a restoration plan.

Over 300 Show Up to Discuss Aircraft Noise in East Hampton

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Helicopters at the East Hampton Airport on Wednesday evening, just down the road from where over 300 residents gathered to discuss the aircraft noise problem. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

More than 325 people from all over the East End turned up to a special meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the East Hampton Airport.

For almost three hours, residents from East Hampton, Southampton, Noyac, North Haven, Shelter Island and the North Fork told the board their concerns, their stories, and their solutions. Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who acts as the board’s airport liaison made a statement before the public hearing began. She assured the public the town board was committed to do everything they can legally do to address the problem.

She also asked those who had signed up to speak to stay respectful of each other, and the board, and said “I request everyone observe basic rules of civility.”

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s wish came true. There was a sense of support and unity among the residents and elected officials who gathered to speak at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Southold, Southampton, Shelter Island, North Haven and Noyac passed memorializing resolutions in the past few weeks, all calling for the East Hampton Town Board to refuse any future grant money from the FAA and then impose regulations on the airport.

Currently, the board is receiving grant assurances from the FAA, which will expire on December 31, 2014. “We implore you to not accept the funding from the FAA,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I can just tell you that from a North Haven standpoint, we’ll do everything to try and support you,” said Jeff Sander, Mayor of North Haven Village. This feeling was repeated throughout the evening, by residents as well as elected officials.

“We’re behind you 100%,” said Shelter Island resident Jim Colligan.  ”Don’t be in fear of those helicopter companies, if we need to rally behind you, we will definitely rally behind you.”

Speakers expressed concern about non-stop noise, which many say goes from as early as 5 a.m. to as late as 2:45 a.m. Frank Dalene, who sits on two of East Hampton’s Airport subcommittees, likened the endless noise to torture. “Will there be satisfaction if you just stop the torture?” he asked. “The only relief is to stop torture. We will not be satisfied until helicopters stop.”

As well as noise, many brought up issues of health and safety. A specialist in animal behaviorism and a Northwest resident explained that the “looming” sound of the helicopters has damaged wild life on the East End, and could be damaging people, too.

Solutions were put forward by the public, as well. Many called for banning helicopters, some called for shutting down all commercial operations in and out of the airport.  Certain residents suggested closing the East Hampton Airport and moving operations to Montauk Airport. This may prove slightly difficult as the 40 acres of the Montauk Airport is less than a tenth of the size of the East Hampton Airport.

“It’s truly a pleasure to listen to th voices on the East End and the conduct at this meeting was exemplary,” Supervisor Cantwell said on Wednesday.

PSEG Gets an Earful in East Hampton

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach, Jr., and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell listened to a presentation by Mike Voltz of PSEG and a public hearing at the East Hampton Emergency Services Building on Tuesday, August 26. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

There was hardly a spare seat in the house on Tuesday, August 26, for an informational session and public hearing hosted by the State Department of Public Services on PSEG Long Island’s Utility 2.0 Long-Range Plan.

PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based PSEG, submitted the plan to the DPS on July 1, and almost immediately came under fire for failing to provide specifics about it as well as its decision to install 50-to-65-foot utility poles through portions of East Hampton Village last winter.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. wrote a joint letter to PSEG, asking that it hold a public meeting in East Hampton because the utility targeted the East End for major upgrades in the plan.

“We believe the Utility 2.0 Long Range Plan needs clarification, detail and public discussion, and we urge a public dialogue for this plan for the Town and Village of East Hampton,” they wrote.

“This is a time my office can hear you, your concerns and take it all into account,” said Julia Bovey, director the New York State Department of Public Services, who hosted the meeting.

And hear from people she did, with many people lining up to once again voice their objections to the installation of the poles.

“They’re an assault on our very core,” said town resident Elena Prohaska Glynn.  “We cannot afford to despoil the landscape. Remove them; bury those lines,” she said to much applause from the audience on Tuesday night.

The new poles have resulted in the creation of two organizations—Save East Hampton and Long Island Businesses For Renewable Energy, a stop-work order issued by the town and even a lawsuit.

Some wore bright orange Save East Hampton t-shirts with “Bury The Lines” written on the back. Many of the orange shirt wearers spoke not about the new plan, but about what they feel to be a more pressing issue: the danger and unsightliness of the new, taller poles in the village.

“It’s not only a matter of aesthetics, it’s a matter of life and death,” said Helen Mendez. “Be the company that you say you are, help us have green solutions. Do what’s safe, do what’s right and bury the lines.”

All three elected officials who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting also called for the new lines to be buried, including State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

“They have been willing over and over again to tax themselves to protect the quality of life here,” he said of his constituents.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell also called for the lines to be buried, to thunderous applause.

Jeremy Samuelson, president of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, gave DPS and PSEG Long Island some “history.” He explained that the public meeting process prior to the installation of the taller poles left much to be desired. The process lacked any transparency or community engagement from the utility company, he said.

“You come back a year later, and you have to eat some crow,” he said to the representatives from the DPS and PSEG. “You guys got it wrong, so that’s the history.”

“The question is,” he continued, “are you going to be our partners in fixing this mess? This thing is an atrocity; I won’t sugarcoat it for you. So the question is: LIPA isn’t in charge anymore. Are you going to help us find the somewhere between $20 million and $30 million to fix this mess?” he asked.

Elected officials and environmentalists also seemed unsatisfied by the lack of consideration for the town’s existing policy. “With regard to the presentation: that is something we would like to see more of, alternatives to fossil fuels,” Mr. Thiele said.

“The town has adopted a very important and ambitious goal,” Mr. Cantwell said of East Hampton’s decision to power all of its community-wide electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020. “I would urge that the power sources on the South Fork be met with renewable energy sources,” he said.

Gordian Raacke, president of Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI) criticized the shortsightedness of the plan. “I know you will make sure that while PSEG may not be in the room anymore, they will hear our comments,” he said to Ms. Bovey—about 20 minutes prior to that, it had become apparent that Mike Voltz, the director of energy efficiency and renewables for PSEG Long Island, who gave an overview of the plan, had left the meeting in the middle of the hearing.

“The plan is not a 2.0 plan. At best it’s a utility 1.1. It’s more business as usual and fails to provide a vision for utility or the future,” he said. “Work with the Town of East Hampton, work with us to build a sustainable energy future and we’ll work with you.”

PSEG needs “to be a collaborator, not an opponent,” he added. “You need to propose a better plan.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by Mr. Voltz, who tried to shed some light on the plan and presented a series of slides and bullet points.

Mr. Voltz discussed items on the five-year plan, including a call to spend approximately $60 million on energy saving steps over the next five years, including providing programmable thermostats to upward of 60,000 residential customers.

The plan also includes a four-year-long educational campaign, at a cost of $8 million, an energy efficiency expansion in the Rockaways, which was explained in great detail as well and a $15 million initiative that would aim to install 6,000 new advanced meters in hard-to-reach locations.

The information on South Fork improvements left much to be desired, according to some of those who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting. In that section of Mr. Voltz’s presentation, he discussed plans to use solar energy, battery storage and programmable thermostats, and also discussed the need for new generators to boost electricity output during periods of peak usage in Montauk, and other places. “They’re very old,” Mr. Voltz said of the generators, “they’re getting worn out.”

East Hampton Town Board to Hold Special Meeting on Aircraft Noise

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Due to overwhelming interest, the East Hampton Town Board has announced that it will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, August 27, where residents from both forks are invited to air their concerns. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

The East Hampton Town Board will hold a special meeting next week to give residents from the North and South forks the opportunity to express their concerns about aircraft noise.

The board’s decision followed a meeting of the Noyac Civic Council at the Bridgehampton Senior Nutrition Center last week that attracted a crowd of well over 100 residents, a large number of whom had to stand in the back of the room for the entirety of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting. Residents from as far away as Mattituck attended the meeting to air their concerns in front of Congressman Tim Bishop, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., other East End elected officials and several Federal Aviation Administration representatives.

All of the East Hampton residents at the Noyac meeting urged those who live in Southampton Town and elsewhere to attend the East Hampton Town Board meeting, scheduled for the evening of Thursday, August 21.

Charles Ehren, vice chairman of The Quiet Skies Coalition, urged all of those gathered to “make your case to the East Hampton Town Board.”

But with the prospect of a large crowd descending on Town Hall, the East Hampton Town Board scheduled the special meeting to discuss the airport for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, at LTV Studios, 75 Industrial Road in Wainscott.

Bob Malafronte, who with Barry Holden, represents Southampton residents on East Hampton Town’s helicopter noise abatement committee, made the same plea and said next week’s meeting “is going to be an important one.”

“We understand a large number of East End residents wish to address this issue and many planned to attend the August 21 regular meeting of the Town Board. Based on the turnout of citizens attending recent meetings on this issue in Southold and Southampton Towns, we would anticipate an overflow crowd on the night of August 21 when the Town Board already has 13 public hearings scheduled,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a release issued on Monday.

“Such a turnout will leave many people without seating, standing in the entryway and outdoors. In order to adequately host the number of people who wish to address the Town Board, we are inviting residents of the North and South Fork to attend the special meeting on August 27 at LTV Studios,” he continued.

The Quiet Skies Coalition also issued a press release on Monday informing its members of the change. “Quiet Skies Coalition congratulates the supervisor for recognizing the importance of this issue and making a special effort for community input. QSC urges all noise-affected residents to attend this meeting to voice concerns regarding aircraft noise,” it read.

There has been little doubt, according to airport critics, that the current town board in East Hampton has been much more responsive than previous administrations.

“It’s a different board now,” said Barry Holden at last Tuesday’s meeting.

“The people on the board are looking in the right direction. But we’re up against a group of business people and owners of corporations.”

Residents, who say they are being tormented by the noise, and environmentalists hope that the town board will stop accepting money from the FAA when the current grant obligations expire on December 31, 2014.

At that point, the board would be able to impose stricter regulations on the airport and, some hope, ban helicopters.

 

Elected Officials To Pressure East Hampton Town on Ending Helicopter Crisis

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Congressman Tim Bishop answered questions about helicopter noise at a very well-attended meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday, August 12. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

It was a full house at the Noyac Civic Council’s August meeting on Tuesday, as residents from all over the East End perched on desks and hovered outside open doors to hear Congressman Tim Bishop and other elected officials address the ongoing issue of helicopter noise at the East Hampton Airport.

Residents from Sag Harbor, East Hampton, North Haven, Noyac and Mattituck gathered at the Bridgehampton Community House on Tuesday, August 12 and expressed their frustration with the seemingly endless helicopter traffic that continues to plague eastern Long Island.

Elena Loreto, president of the Noyac Civic Council, played a recording of helicopter noise taken at her house to the FAA representatives who had come to answer questions and listen to grievances at Tuesday’s meeting. “This is what it’s like when you’re having company, or having a birthday party,” she said over the sound of whirring blades and engines.

Ms. Loreto complained about the “B-team” of FAA representatives who had been sent to the meeting, asked where FAA administrator Michael Huerta was, and accused them of being mute.

FAA representatives responded that Mr. Huerta was in Washington D.C. and that they would report back to him. “A lot of what we’re doing is listening to what your concerns are,” said Mark Guiod of NY TRACON. He was the only FAA official to express sympathy to the crowd and said, “what you’re experiencing just shouldn’t happen.”

“The issue we’re going to focus on is what’s in the best interest of the people that we represent,” Congressman Bishop said on Tuesday. He added that he has reached out to the senior leadership of the FAA inviting them to a meeting with Senator Charles Schumer and supervisors from the five East End towns. “We hope to have that meeting in the next week to 10 days,” he said.

Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Doherty announced loudly, “Shelter Island cannot take it anymore.” The island recently banned the taking off or landing of any helicopters other than emergency services. “What has been our reward?” he asked. “We’ve become a dustbin.”

“We’re fed up and we’re with you all the way,” he said to the crowd.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. encouraged the masses.  “Our goal is to get the federal government to act as soon as possible,” he said, adding that they need to identify exactly what changes need to be made. “It’s not good enough to rearrange the furniture on the Titanic,” he said to great applause.

There was much discussion and some confusion throughout the meeting of the various helicopter routes, but it became apparent that no new route could provide a satisfactory result. Wainscott resident Barry Raebeck said, “Shifting helicopter routes does not solve the problem of noise and pollution. It does not even lessen the problem. It simply shifts the problem to other people. There is no such thing as an all-water route to a land-locked airport.”

The way to solve the problem, he said, “is to eliminate commercial operations at East Hampton Airport.”

Kathy Cunningham of the Quiet Skies Coalition, and countless other speakers, implored the citizens of neighboring towns to attend the next East Hampton Town Board meeting on Thursday, August 21. “They need to see this support,” she said.

When asked what chance the East Hampton Town Board had of imposing regulations on the airport, Congressman Bishop directed that question to the amassed FAA representatives. Mary McCarthy from the FAA answered that until the grant assurances expire on December 31, 2014, the town board would not be able to restrict the use of the airport except for safety reasons.

After that point, however, if the town board decided not to take anymore FAA money, the airport would be able to impose flight restrictions. Frank Dalene, who serves on the airport subcommittee of the town’s finance advisory committee, said they have found that if helicopter traffic were eliminated from the airport, it would still be able to support itself without the help of FAA money.

“The decision maker on January 1, 2015 will be the town board,” he said. He added that East Hampton lawmakers needed to know there are people who would support new regulations.

All those who spoke about the East Hampton Town Board mentioned the encouraging changes that they have seen in the new administration, including North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander. The next step, he said, is to get the board to regain control of the airport from the FAA.

“But I think there’s a much larger problem here. I’ve seen letters from the other side, and I’ve seen the distribution of those other letters,” he said, adding that every billionaire on the East End is on that distribution list, and that an expensive lawsuit will ensue.

“This is a regional problem. We’ve got to make it a regional fight,” he said.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at this point announced that the board was planning to have a special meeting on Thursday, July 14 to pass a memorializing resolution that would support East Hampton in a decision to refuse money from the FAA. She added they are encouraged by the change in town board, and addressed the representatives of the FAA, “We should not have to worry about getting sued for making decisions that should be happening on your level,” she said.

When asked if they would support the East Hampton Town Board if they were to make this decision, both Congressman Bishop and Assemblyman Thiele said that they would support whatever decision the town makes.

“When the people lead, the leaders will follow, and I think that’s what it’s about here tonight,” Mr. Thiele said.

Editor’s note: Barry Raebeck is the father of Sag Harbor Express reporter Tessa Raebeck.

Plastic Bag Ban Being Considered for East End

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By Mara Certic

A regional ban on single-use plastic bags could be in the cards for the East End of Long Island.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst met last week to discuss a ban on thin plastic bags within the East End towns. Ms. Throne-Holst had previously met with supervisors from Southold, Riverhead, Shelter Island and Brookhaven about the possibility of a regional ban.

At an East Hampton Town Board work session on Tuesday, August 12, Mr. Cantwell discussed the potential ban with the public, and his fellow board members for the first time. “Today was kind of the kick-off,” said Alex Walter, the East Hampton Town Supervisor’s executive assistant.

According to Mr. Walter, other members of the board agreed they want to look into the ban and try to move in that direction. East Hampton and Southampton Villages both banned single-use plastic bags in 2011, which “has worked out pretty well,” according to Mr. Walter.

Supervisor Cantwell asked the East Hampton Town Litter Committee, Sustainability Committee and Business Alliance to join forces to explore the possibility of this ban and “see what it means for everyone,” Mr. Walter said.

Frank Dalene, chair of the East Hampton Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee, was at Tuesday’s meeting to support the ban. “[Mr. Cantwell] suggested we get together with the Litter Committee, which I have already done,” Mr. Dalene said on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Cantwell asked the Litter and Sustainability committees to hold public outreach and education programs about this issue, Mr. Dalene said. “As far as the Energy Sustainability Committee, we’re in support of it,” he said.

Jennifer Garvey, Ms. Throne-Holst’s Deputy Chief of Staff, said on Tuesday that the Southampton Sustainability Committee have been working on outreach programs and conducting similar research. “There’s an effort to try to coordinate the towns for a regional ban,” she said.

Ms. Throne-Holst has said that a town-wide ban would not have a sufficient effect, and called for a region-wide ban at an East End Supervisors and Mayors Association meeting in April of this year.

According to Dieter von Lehsten, the co-chair of the Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, the Town of Southampton hands out 23 million bags a year. Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera began an educational “bring-your-own-bag” campaign in 2012, which asked residents to pledge to recycle their plastic bags, and distributed reusable bags.

Even still, only 11 percent of plastic bags handed out in Southampton are recycled, according to Mr. von Lehsten.

“We have a gigantic problem,” he said during an interview last month.

“The issue is that the litter goes into the ocean and kills the sea mammals, kills the birds, kills the fish and the sharks.,” he said. “A plastic bag looks like a jellyfish, and so sea turtles eat them.”

Equally concerning are the giant plastic islands that have formed in the centers of turning tides. The 5 Gyres Institute is an organization dedicated to “witness plastic pollution decline in the environment until it is no longer found in the world’s oceans,” according to their website. The 5 Gyres Institute went on a three-week research voyage from Bermuda and Iceland earlier this year to study the plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Gyre.  According to the organization’s website, every surface sample collected during the 21-day trip contained plastic.

 

 

CPF Rebounds

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The Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund, which collects a 2-percent tax for open space purchases from most real estate actions, saw its revenues rise by 4.3 percent for the first half of 2014 as compared to the same period in 2013.

So far, according to a press release from New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., a total of $45.75 million has been collected this year. That compares to $43.87 million for the first six months of 2013.

Southampton Town continued to lead in revenue. It collected $26.79 million, an increase of 4.6 percent from last year. East Hampton Town saw a decline of 3.2 percent, collecting $13.87 million. Southold collected $2.21 million, an increase of 30.8 percent, Riverhead collected $1.79 million, an increase of 68.9 percent and Shelter Island collected $1.1 million, a decline of 5.2 percent.

“The CPF continues to see steady growth in revenues in the first six months of 2014, exceeding 2013 by 4.3 percent. The highest percentage increases have been on the North Fork. 2013 was the second largest year for CPF revenues, exceeded only by 2007. For the first six months, CPF revenues have been consistently between $7 and $8 million per month. This reflects the continued strength and stability in East End real estate and the continued availability to local Towns of the necessary revenues to protect community character.”

Since its inception on 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated a total of $930.5 million. The CPF has generated $97.33 million in the last 12 months.

 

East Hampton Airport’s Sunny Prospects

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By Mara Certic

In June, the East Hampton Town Board adopted a goal of meeting all of its electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020. A proposed wind farm off the coast of Montauk could produce a huge amount of energy for the East End, but East Hampton Town has also decided to take advantage of one of its other natural resources: the sun.

The invention of the first ever solar system dates back over 100 years, and the technology only continues to improve and become more effective. According to the 2013 Solar Market Insight Report, “more solar has been installed in the past 18 months than in the previous 30 years.” The report adds that in 2013, the state of California installed more solar than the entire country had in 2011.

As it tries to blaze a trail in the world of sustainability, East Hampton is looking into installing several different multi-megawatt solar arrays throughout the town. One distinction one must make when discussing solar power is the difference between solar thermal and photovoltaic conversion. Solar thermal electrical energy generation works by creating heat from the sun’s light. This heat then runs a heat engine, which turns a generator, making electricity.

“Solar thermal technology works very well here for residential and commercial water heating and is less costly than solar electric panels,” said Gordian Raacke, founder of Renewable Energy Long Island and a member of the East Hampton Town Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee. “Large, utility scale solar thermal systems such as ‘solar through’ or ‘concentrating solar’ systems, which make steam to run a steam turbine generating electricity are used in the South but not in our latitudes,” he said.

Photovoltaic energy uses solar panels to convert the sun’s light directly into electricity. This conversion occurs without any moving parts or environmental emissions and is clean and completely sustainable. This is the type of solar energy that East Hampton Town is considering using in various sites. The largest of the proposed sites would be located at the consistently controversial East Hampton Airport.

In February, the town board issued a request for proposals in conjunction with LIPA/PSEG’s goal to provide  up to 280 megawatts of new, on-island renewable capacity and energy for the East End. The vast majority of this power would come from the proposed Deepwater ONE project off of Montauk; the rest would be from various solar fields.

“East Hampton Township agreed tentatively to a lease agreement for 37 megawatts [at the airport],” explained Mr. Raacke. The RFP sought out responses from solar contractors who are willing to install and maintain the solar panels at the airport at no cost to the town. The contractors would receive payment from PSEG-LI for the energy produced, and would then pay a portion of that income to the town as a lease payment.

“East Hampton is involved as the entity that provides the land for it and gets money from the developer in the form of an annual lease payment,” Mr. Raacke explained. “LIPA or PSEG-LI buys power from them the same way they buy power from a power plant they have under contract,” he said.

“These projects are all financed, constructed and operated by the developers. They bear the financial risk and the constructional and operational risk. If they run over budget, it’s their problem, if the solar panels have some sort of a problem they have to fix it.” he explained. The utility company will pay the contractors under a 20-year power purchase agreement only for the power that they produce.

“This makes it such an attractive proposition for the utility, and for everyone, because the price is known for 20 years. Whereas the price from a conventional power plant is not known. Nobody can say what other power is going to cost in 20 years,” he said, adding that there is no way of knowing what the price of natural gas or other fuels will be then. “Obviously, with solar power we know the cost: it’s free.”

After looking at various proposals, the sustainability committee made a recommendation of two solar contractors to the town board, SunEdison and S-Power. The committee’s report recommended that they both be given the opportunity to partake in the 280-megawatt program.

The almost 38 megawatts that the airport project would create, Mr. Raacke said,  would produce enough power for approximately 5,000 homes. “And that could be much more if [the contractors] install what they say is possible there, which would be up to 50 or even 60 megawatts.”

The solar panels “would be in several locations alongside the runways,” Mr. Raacke said. “It would be located so that it poses no interference with the planes landing or taking off. It has to be approved by the FAA, and they look at things such as glare—there can’t be any glare for that would be happening when the pilot was landing or taking off,” he said.

He explained that SunEdison and S-Power provided designs that are compatible with the current FAA regulations, which ensure that the panels are a certain distance from the runways and are turned at angles so they would not interfere or endanger any of the flights in the area.

“SunEdison and other companies have done this before at airports,” Mr. Raacke said, adding that Denver International Airport has a large solar array.  An airport watchdog group tentatively approved an offer earlier this month for SunEdison to lease land from Southampton Town for a multi-megawatt solar array at the Frank S. Gabreski Airport.

PSEG-LI has yet to make a decision or approve the proposals for the airport array. If it does, review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act will be undertaken. “Typically, this is a very benign use of land, there’s no fuel storage on site, these are simple structures that are erected on that land,” Mr. Raacke said.

John Botos, an environmental technician with the East Hampton Town Natural Resources Department, said that the studies would look to protect groundwater, limit the displacement of animals and minimize clearance of wetland areas.

The lease payment that the solar contractor would pay the town is still unknown. “It depends on how much it generates and how much PSEG would be willing to generate,” said East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby who acts as liaison for the sustainability committee. “After that we will go and negotiate for the lease payments and the amount of land they would need to have,” she said.

A representative from PSEG said on Wednesday that the utility company is currently going through the process of a Coordinated Electric System Interconnection Review of the airport site. It is expecting to finish the study in the next three to six weeks, the spokeswoman said, at which point it will be much closer to reaching a decision on the solar proposal. If approved, the 37-megawatt solar system at the East Hampton Airport could be operational by the end of 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Enders Go Green With Solar Panels

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Steve D’Angelo’s rooftop solar panels at his house on Widow Gavitt’s Road in Sag Harbor. Photo by Steve D’Angelo.

By Mara Certic

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Steve D’Angelo was looking for a way to invest his money. Instead of putting it into stocks or hiding it under his mattress, he decided to put that money onto his roof.

Six years later, the 24 solar panels that he had installed on his 3,500-square-foot Sag Harbor house have already paid for themselves. “For me it was a long-term investment; I had money and I didn’t know where to put it,” he said. After reading about rebates from LIPA and Southampton Town, the decision to have Green Logic design and install solar panels for his house was a “no-brainer,” he said.

“I’m adding value to my house and I’m not paying as much outright every month,” he said. “It’s really not much different from a municipal bond to some extent, where you’re getting 2 percent or 3 percent on your money—it’s just a money move,” he said. Mr. D’Angelo explained that he thinks that solar is a hard sell out on the East End because of the large number of investment properties and second homes.

“At the time, I knew I was going to stay in my house until my kids were going to move out and they were around one at that time,” he said. Mr. D’Angelo paid around $19,000 out-of-pocket, he said, and got a state credit of $5,500, a LIPA rebate of $6,600 and also a rebate from Southampton Town.

“I ended up paying 50 percent of the actual installed cost,” after the various rebates, he said. “You know you’re going to be getting every cent back on that solar system because you’re going to use it every single day.”

“Every month I save on the average of $200 to $300. And during the wintertime my LIPA bill comes in at zero,” he said, explaining that the pool pump and the air conditioning that run all summer expend a lot of electricity. Last month, he said his bill was $228, before he got solar panels his June utility bill would have cost him around $460, he said.

“Green Logic have it down to the penny, they know exactly how much you’re going to save on an annual basis and then you can decide if it’s worth it,” he said. “They maximize your investment, they’re not just trying to cover your house in solar panels,” he said, adding that he had suggested putting solar panels on his garage, which Green Logic advised against.

The trick is, he said, you have to have the money up front to do it. “That’s why a lot of guys don’t do it, they’d rather go out and buy a car than put solar on their house,” he said.

Brian Kelly, owner of East End Tick and Mosquito Control, definitely has his eye on a new (electric) car in the future; but before he makes that investment he, like Mr. D’Angelo, decided to put some money into solar panels.

Around two months ago, Mr. Kelly had 48 250-watt solar panels installed onto the roof of his business headquarters in Southampton Village. “I’ve always liked the idea of solar, but I never thought it was in the cards for me,” he said on Tuesday. After meeting with Brian Tymann of BGT Consulting, LLC, who told him that his business had the “perfect roof for solar,” he realized it was time to act.

“I just said to myself, now’s really the time, and I just did it, it was a no-brainer. And I love it,” he said of his 12,000-kilowatt system. His meter spins backwards now, he said.

Mr. Kelly had a total out-of-pocket expense of $36,000 and is still waiting on a rebate from the Village of Southampton. He expects to recoup his costs in 10 years. “The one thing a lot of people don’t think about is that your electric bill is constantly rising. Over the next few years my $400-a-month bill could turn into $600. And that’s money I now won’t be paying.”

“It really makes sense. You do have an out-of-pocket layout and that’s tough for a lot of people. But they do have a lot of financial programs to help people out,” he said.

There’s no fear if one of his panels breaks, Mr. Kelly has a 20-year warranty on the solar panel array. He explained that each of the panels is separate and that a problem with one will not affect the other 23.

“And what’s really cool is that the guy who set it up for me put an app on my phone that can tell me all day long exactly how much energy I’m producing by the hour,” he said.

At 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Mr. Kelly’s solar panels had produced 11.3 kilowatt hours  of energy. Powering a light bulb for one month uses 9.6 kilowatts, he said. “Isn’t that so cool?”