Tag Archive | "renewable energy"

Rally for Renewables

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Several East End environmental organizations are  joining together for a “Rally for Renewables,” at which they intend show the LIPA board and Governor Cuomo there is public support for renewables and in particular for offshore wind power.     

According to an e-mail from the East End Climate Action Network (eeCAN), “This is the final board meeting before a decision is made on an offshore wind farm that will power more than 120,000 homes and create hundreds of jobs on Long Island.  Our presence will show LIPA, this is their chance to make a bold investment in renewable energy.”

The Sierra Club, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, NYPIRG, various elected officials and others will be present.

The Rally for Renewables will take place on Thursday, October 30, at 10 a.m. at 333 Ovington Boulevard in Uniondale.

Contact David Alicea with any questions at david.alicea@sierraclub.org. Those interested in carpooling from the South Fork should contact Dea Million at (612) 644-1162.

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 End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do August 15 to 17

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"Pont de Tournelle" by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

“Pont de Tournelle” by Stephen Wilkes is on view at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

Art, films, and alternative energy; there’s plenty to do on the East End this weekend:

 

“Water 2014″ opens at the Tulla Booth Gallery in Sag Harbor on Saturday, August 16, with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m.

The annual exhibition features contemporary and classic photography “depicting life in and around the most powerful force of nature,” said the gallery. Dan Jones, Karine Laval, Herb Friedman, John Magarites, Blair Seagram, Tulla Booth, Anne Gabriele and Jay Hoops will show their work at the gallery, which is located at 66 Main Street in Sag Harbor.

 

Furthering on your water weekend, visit the Parrish Art Museum for the Maritime Film Festival, a 70-minute screening of short film selections, on Friday, August 15, at 7 p.m.

The program includes a brief talk by artist Duke Riley, a live musical performance and a special sampling of Sag Harbor Rum.

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 283-2118.

 

Hosted by Alec Baldwin, the Hamptons International Film Festival presents “Last Days in Vietnam,” on Saturday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m.

The documentary, produced and directed by Rory Kennedy,  follows United States soldiers during the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, when the North Vietnamese Army was closing in on Saigon as the South Vietnamese resistance crumbled.

A question and answer session will follow the screening, which will be held at Guild Hall, located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, call the box office at (631) 324-4050.

 

The East End Climate Action Network will host its first annual Sustainability and Renewable Energy Fair on Saturday, August 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the grounds of Miss Amelia’s Cottage in Amagansett Village.

The event features exhibitions from leading companies in the sustainability and renewable energy fields, as well as informal lectures from energy and environment experts, local food and fun games and other activities for kids. Local artists will perform at the end of the day.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read "The Tempest" at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

Tony award-winning John Glover will read “The Tempest” at two outdoor performances for the new Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative.

There will also be opportunities to get involved in local sustainability and climate change efforts, including solar energy consultations, beach clean-ups and membership sign-ups for local environmental groups. For more information, visit Renewable Energy Long Island.

 

Celebrating the launch of The Bay Street Shakespeare Initiative, Bay Street Theater will present two outdoor staged readings of The Tempest starring Tony award-winner John Glover as Prospero, on August 16 and 17.

On Saturday, the first performance is a VIP benefit held on a private waterfront estate on Shelter Island. The evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by a 7 p.m. reading, includes a reception with the cast.

Sunday’s reading, which is open to the community free of charge, also starts at 7 p.m. at a thus far undisclosed location. There will be bleacher seating, although guests are encouraged to bring chairs, picnics and blankets. The reading will take place as the sun sets, with the stars coming out as Mr. Glover reads Shakespeare’s most beloved plays.

For more information, call the Bay Street box office at (631) 725-9500.

East Hampton Airport’s Sunny Prospects

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Denver International Airport

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?”

A Mighty Wind Blows Our Way

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London Array, an offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom that produces enough energy to power 500,000 homes a year. Photo courtesy London Array Limited.

By Mara Certic

The East Hampton Town Board made history last month when it became the first town in New York State to establish the goal of meeting all the town’s electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020. A proposed 200-megawatt wind farm 30 miles east of Montauk Point could produce up to a fifth of those expected energy needs.

The goals have been described in the media as “lofty,” but renewable energy professionals are adamant that they are not just tilting at windmills—this battle can be won.

In just four years, an old energy substation on the east end of Long Island is slated to become one of the first in the United States to connect to and be powered by a large offshore wind farm. Deepwater Wind, of Rhode Island, won a bid to develop a 256-square-mile area in 2013. Its current proposal is to install 35 six-mega-watt turbines, which would supply the five East End towns with 200 megawatts of energy.

Extending 550 feet from the water line to the tip of the blade when fully extended, the turbines really are “quite large,” according to Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind. Each turbine is pretty much equivalent in size to the Washington Monument which, at 555 feet tall, is the tallest structure in the District of Columbia. Deepwater Wind officials maintain that the turbines will be installed “over the horizon” and therefore will not be visible from any point in Long Island.

Established in 2005, Deepwater Wind is dedicated exclusively to offshore wind and focuses predominantly in the Northeast, from New Jersey to New England. This is the area, according to Mr. Grybowski, where company officials believe offshore wind farms are most likely to be established first “mainly because there are relatively few options in the Northeast for building large-scale renewable energy.” He added that the offshore wind resource here is “one of the strongest in the world.”

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 4.18 percent of all generated electricity in the United States comes from onshore wind power. Deepwater Wind’s demonstration-scale project three miles southeast of Block Island is on track to become America’s first offshore wind farm in 2016.

As any seaman will tell you, offshore wind is stronger than wind traveling over land, providing Long Island with “a great opportunity,” according to David Alicea of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

Deepwater ONE—the name for the project off of Montauk—would deliver power to an existing LIPA-owned substation on the South Fork via transmission cables buried below roads. Deepwater Wind claims that this specific project could provide electricity to more than 120,000 houses, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.

“Offshore wind really is the best way,” Mr. Alicea said. The 122-year-old Sierra Club, founded by conservationist John Muir, is the biggest non-profit environmental organization in the United States. According to Mr. Alicea, for the past few years, climate change has come to the forefront of environmental issues the organization focuses on because it “really connects to everything.”

“I think Super Storm Sandy is what made it really apparent to the Long Islanders, that there’s a real risk here,” he said.  “But the geography that threatens us also provides us with a solution.”

He stressed the importance of ensuring that the project be good for the environment in every way, and that Deepwater Wind is indeed doing its due diligence to prevent any undesirable ecological impacts. “They have agreed to be really mindful in their construction and they’ve been a great partner to work with for a number of environmental groups,” he said.

But Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, does not share Mr. Alicea’s optimism about the project. “It’s like anything in life,” she said about the proposed wind farm. “If it sounds like it’s too good to be true, it usually is.”

Ms. Brady’s concerns about Deepwater ONE range from disrupting air traffic (“They have to put lights on them, but then there are these little things called planes!”) to noise pollution (“What travels best on water? Sound.”) Her main worry, however, is the effect that she predicts the wind farm will have on the fishing industry.

“This is an industrial event on the ocean floor and it’s a big deal,” she said. “People hear the word ‘green’ and they think it’s passive and green. This is pile-driving the ocean floor. What do you think a little pile-driving is going to do to [fish]?” Potentially disrupt their habitats and migratory patterns, she fears.

According to Lauren Thompson, an environmental consultant in the renewable energy sector in the United Kingdom, who was interviewed by email, these concerns are legitimate. The United Kingdom currently has 22 operational offshore wind farms and over 50 more in development. Part of her job, she explained, is to help minimize the environmental and social impacts of offshore wind farms.

Effects on migratory bird paths, marine mammal feeding and breeding grounds, fish-spawning grounds, erosion and noise pollution are all meticulously studied and assessed over a period of several years, she said.

Most of these impacts are “carefully considered during the development phase, and minimized as far as possible,” said Ms. Thompson. “Wind farm developers are required to consult with environmental and fishing groups closely during the planning process to reach agreement on which measures will be used.”

Merlin Jackson, a fisherman based out of Ramsgate Harbor in Kent, England, who was interviewed by email, believes that the studies haven’t gone far enough. He claims to have experienced environmental side effects of several nearby offshore wind farms. “There is no doubt that these farms have had an effect on the fishermen here,” he said. “But it remains to be seen how far-reaching that will be and whether the benefits will outweigh the negatives.”

Mr. Jackson said that in addition to the scientific surveys done by developers, “there are many other surveys and site specific studies that could be put in place to make the impacts clearer and to gain the confidence of the fishermen.”

Ms. Thompson explained that in the United Kingdom, even after environmental studies and consultations have been conducted, developers, in general, end up paying compensation to fishermen if they disrupt their normal fishing grounds during construction.

“You need to pay [the fishermen] for that privilege,” said Ms. Brady. “They need to bring their checkbooks.”

Architect and chairman of the Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee Frank Dalene, however, feels that their worries might be exaggerated. He maintained that although there are legitimate arguments and concerns about offshore wind farms, “it’s really a benign impact.”

“In Europe there are 2,500 wind farms offshore in 11 countries, producing almost 10 gigawatts of energy,” he said. “It’s already developed [there], which is a great way to dispel myths.”

He spoke about a plan to take concerned fishermen on the East End to those European countries where they can see the actual effects of offshore wind farms on the industry. Mr. Dalene added that continuing to burn fossil fuels would have “a more lasting impact on the fishery.”

“We could be one of the first in the country to do this and really make this transition away from fossil fuels,” said Mr. Alicea. Matt Kearns, a Long Island-native and dedicated member of the Sierra Club, is determined for that to happen.

He is so determined that on Saturday, June 14, Mr. Kearns will be running 100 miles, from the Montauk Lighthouse to the Long Beach Boardwalk, just to make a point.

“As a runner I wanted to do something that would connect coastal areas that could benefit from building job-creating offshore wind,” he said. “We’re showing that although Long Island families are at risk from worsening climate disruption, we also have the resources to help solve it by building renewable offshore wind.”

The run, Mr. Alicea said, aims to demonstrate to the powers that be that Long Island is behind the plan. He added that a poll done by the Sierra Club showed 80 percent of Long Islanders support offshore wind farming.

Mr. Alicea, and the Sierra Club, are using the run to demonstrate to Governor Cuomo, LIPA and PSEG that the East End is ready and that this is what they want. “A lot of it hinges on the governor. He’s been really involved in Long Island’s energy policy and making all these decisions,” he said. “If he gives the green light and says New York State is behind this, they’ll do it.”

Environmental studies have already begun for the Deepwater ONE site and when completed, if the project is approved and accepted by the power authorities, wind energy could be responsible for turning on East Hampton’s lights as early as 2018.

Gordian Raacke, the founder of Renewable Energy Long Island,  said “People are afraid of it because it’s something new and something different. It’s like everything else; change is always scary and meets some resistance. But people have to have a change to experience it.”

Wind Power in a Field Near You

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The wind turbine at Mahoney Farm on Long Lane in East Hampton. Photo by Virgina Briggs.

By Mara Certic

Two 120-foot wind turbines have been gently whirring over Long Lane in East Hampton for over two years.  Although initially met with resistance, they have now been embraced by the community and provide electricity for two farms.

Steve Mahoney knew he wanted to reduce his carbon footprint. After an East Hampton Town symposium on renewable energy several years ago, he spoke with experts about his 19-acre farm, which grows trees and shrubs to sell to nurseries. They suggested he put up a wind turbine.

Mr. Mahoney heeded their advice and worked closely with town employees who “liked the idea,” he said. In spite of this he was met with resistance at the first public hearing. “I was ambushed,” he said. “There were some people [there] who weren’t even in sightline or in anyway possibly inconvenienced. They had a lot of fears.”

After three public presentations, Mr. Mahoney’s wind turbine was finally approved and he contacted neighbor Anthony Iacono of Iacono’s chicken farm. “He said, ‘Listen, if you want to get it now’s the time,’” Mr. Iacono recalled.  “So I applied for it, no one objected to it, and it’s here now.”

Both farmers maintained that neither of them has received any complaints from neighbors or passersby since the installation of the turbines. Neighbors’ fears of noise pollution and decreased property values have since dissipated.

“There’s not much noise. If the wind is blowing heavy, you hear it hum a little, but you also hear the trees rustling.” Mr. Iacono said.

And the fear that it would decrease property value, Mr. Mahoney said, has “gone 180 degrees in the other direction.”

According to a New York Times article on May 26, a 197-unit luxury apartment building in Long Island City, Queens, has just installed three wind turbines to its roof in order to attract green-leaning buyers. The article said that there are plans in the works for at least a dozen more rooftop turbines in New York City.

Mr. Mahoney said that he loves his turbine, which provides 12,000 kilowatts a year: enough electricity for his entire farm—powering an electric well, the irrigation system, a barn, the office and electric vehicles they use on the property. He understands, he said, that not everyone necessarily would want to install one but that “people who want to rely on renewables for their home or their business should pursue it.”

Mr. Iacono, who received grants from both the Long Island Power Authority and the federal government, is pleased with his decision but said that without $53,000 in grants, plus other incentives that lowered his out-of-pocket costs, he “wouldn’t even consider it.” Mr. Iacono, who said he is now saving around $3,000 a year in electricity, expects the turbine to have paid itself off in seven to eight years. Without incentives, the windmill would have cost about $90,000, he said.

Both men have had technical issues with their machines. The chicken farm’s broke following an electrical storm. “Lightning is one of those things they don’t like,” Mr. Iacono said. It was out of commission for nine months, but Mr. Iacono believes that the reason it took so long was in part due to employee reshuffling after a falling-out at the Oklahoma-based manufacturer. The warranty covered all repairs.

Mr. Mahoney’s was down for less than two months and he was told that the problem was three $2 parts. “The manufacturer was just really responsive,” he said. “And he gave me a check for my lost production.”

East Hampton Town Commits to 100% Renewable Energy by 2030

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By Mara Certic

Environmental advocates celebrated last Thursday the inclusion of East Hampton Town on a list of communities that are committed in the long term to obtaining all of their energy from renewable sources.

The town board voted unanimously to establish the ambitious goal of using renewable energy to meet all of the community’s electricity needs by the year 2020, becoming the first town in the state to set such a goal.

The town intends to meet an equivalent renewable energy goal for the heating, transportation and waste management sectors by the year 2030.

“We are dumping 90 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere on a daily basis,” said Gordian Raacke, founder of Renewable Energy Long Island at an East Hampton Energy and Sustainability forum on  Thursday, May 22. “If we continue business as usual we would get into catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change,” he said.

“Electricity makes up half of [our carbon] emissions so we can tackle that first half very quickly because we have all our tools in our toolbox, particularly in the electric sector, to generate electricity from renewable resources,” said Mr. Raacke, who is also a member of the East Hampton Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee.

According to Mr. Raacke, Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in all sectors by 2050.

“Which means essentially we have to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources,” said Mr. Raacke.

“If someone hears this they may go: ‘Wow, that’s a lofty goal,’” said Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee chairman Frank Dalene. “It’s a high goal, but the energy sustainability committee has already recommended three RFP’s to the town.”

Mr. Dalene was referring to a proposed solar generating facility at the East Hampton Airport, an offshore wind farm 30 miles off of Montauk Point and smaller solar installations proposed for 10 town-owned lots.

“The Deepwater Wind ONE project will be around 200 megawatts. According to their news release, it will generate power for the five East End towns,” said John Botos, an environmental technician for the Town of East Hampton’s Natural Resources Department.

Mr. Botos explained that East Hampton currently uses 20 percent of the electricity consumed by the five East End towns. Therefore, it would only be able to count on 20 percent of the wind farm’s output against its 100-percent goal should the farm come to fruition.

“However, if we count this plus the output from the 70 megawatts of solar proposals, we would achieve slightly more than 100 percent of our current communitywide electricity consumption,” he added.

“We don’t know if they will actually produce this much energy,” Mr. Dalene said about the three proposals. “But we as a committee are not going to stop.”

Mr. Raacke said in Thursday’s meeting that his house, along with many on the East End, is powered entirely by renewable energy. The town has a solar fast-track permitting process, and decisions are made in 14 days or less. The fee has been waived for solar permit applications as an incentive for residents.

“Not everyone is going to be able to afford solar panels,” said Mr. Botos.  But PSEG Long Island, he explained, offers a slew of tax rebate programs for those who choose to switch their homes to use renewable energy; a 30-percent federal tax credit is also available, he said.

“However, it will soon be possible to get solar panels installed with a low-interest loan from New York State and pay it back through on-bill financing on utility bills,” he said. “This means that households could afford solar panels, as there is no upfront cash required.”

The committee stressed that this goal also presents a great economic opportunity, creating jobs and keeping money in the local economy.

Mr. Botos emphasized the importance of public participation in attaining the sustainability goal, which will be augmented by “unplugged” campaigns at schools, community outreach and involvement.

The first step, the committee explained, is to reduce energy consumption. “You’ll waste money on your solar panels if you don’t reduce your energy consumption first,” warned Mr. Dalene.

Mr. Botos recommended that all residents take advantage of the free federally funded home energy audit, and take measures to make their homes more energy-efficient.

“There are a variety of other ways people can get involved. For example, turn off the ‘stand-by’ feature on TVs and gaming systems and unplugging electronics when they are not being used,” he said. “It isn’t enough to just generate electricity from renewable energy, but it is equally important to reduce consumption.”

The simple switch to LED light bulbs makes a difference, he said. The natural resources department has a variety of reimbursement forms on PSEG rebates for a wide array of household appliances.

Towns, cities and countries worldwide have made similar renewable energy goals; Aspen’s goal of using 100-percent renewable energy by the year 2015 is already 75 percent complete.

“All of the studies agree that we can do this, we have the financial wherewithal to make this happen,” said Mr. Raacke. “All that was lacking is the political will and that’s what we now have in this town.”

Renewable Energy STEM Center Earns Funding

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A two-story, 33,792- square-foot Renewable Energy and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center on the Suffolk County Community College Michael J. Grant, Brentwood campus—the first of its kind in the state community college system—moved closer to reality when the Suffolk County legislature appropriated funding for design and planning of the new facility on May 13. Fifty percent of the $19.5 million center’s funding comes from New York State.

The new facility will house laboratories and classrooms to teach installation, maintenance and repair of solar, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal and other green power technologies, according to Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun L. McKay who said plans call for the building to be solar-powered with geothermal heating and would contain a prototype solar house on rails that could be used indoors or rolled outside to test various renewable energy materials.

“Importantly, “McKay explained, “the second floor of the facility will serve as an incubator in conjunction with Stony Brook University, as well as space for cybersecurity educational and development opportunities.”

McKay said the new building will be sited next to the College’s Workforce and Development Center on the Michael J. Grant Campus.