East Hampton Village looking for solar solution

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Citing high electricity costs and an interest in alternative sources of energy, the East Hampton Village Board of Trustees is planning on installing solar panels on the roof of its Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street.

At a Village Board work session on Thursday, May 1, Joe Fuchs from the Southampton company Green Logic presented a proposal to install a 9.86 kilowatt system. It is priced at $76,021 but would cost the village $31,651 after a $44,370 rebate from the Long Island Power Authority.

According to Mr. Fuchs, the solar panel system would save the village more than $105,000 over the next 30 years—which is how long the system is expected to last—assuming that electricity costs rise by 5 percent a year. “Whatever you are consuming in solar electricity on the building, you are not buying from LIPA,” Mr. Fuchs said. “It’s as simple as that.”

In buying the solar panels, he said, the village would essentially be paying between 10 cents per kilowatt hour for 30 years of solar electricity. He said that the village currently pays 16 cents a kilowatt hour to LIPA to power the Emergency Services Building.

“It’s akin to being able to go into a gas station two years ago and buy 30 years worth of gasoline for $1.69 a gallon,” Mr. Fuchs said. “We’d all be happy to do that, and solar offers the same opportunity.”

Mr. Fuchs had prepared proposals and cost estimates for installing solar panels on Village Hall on Main Street and the Department of Public Works headquarters on Accabonac Road, as well as the Emergency Services Building. But Village Administrator Larry Cantwell said over the phone on Tuesday that the village wants to try the panels on the Emergency Services Building first, and would then install them on another building next year, depending on how well they perform.

In order to encourage the use of alternative energy, LIPA offers a rebate of $4.50 for each watt of capacity in a system. It limits the capacity of any rooftop system to 10 kilowatts.

Mr. Cantwell said in April that the village spends $80,000 a year to power the Emergency Services Building, which operates 24 hours a day and houses the East Hampton Fire Department and East Hampton Village Ambulance Association, and another $10,000 or $12,000 a year on both the Department of Public Works building and Village Hall.

The panels are guaranteed for 25 years by its manufacturer, Sharp, and include a one-year warranty from Green Logic.

Although the board did not formally approve the proposal at Thursday’s meeting, Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said it would like to move ahead with the plan, and the village has included $50,000 for the panels in its proposed 2008-2009 budget.

Speaking from the back of the room after Mr. Fuch’s presentation, Paul Smith from the Southampton renewable energy company Sunstream USA, said that he would like to have his company included as a bidder for the project.

Electric truck

A month after they saw a demonstration, board members said last week that they planned on purchasing an $18,400 electric truck for the village’s Public Works Department.

Scott Fithian, the superintendant of the public works, told the board at Thursday’s meeting that he was interested in getting the MILES ZX40ST, an $18,400 pick-up truck that he said could be used for work on the grounds at Herrick Park and the Sea Spray cottages at Main Beach and could also be used by the police department for parking enforcement.

The truck can be driven between 50 and 60 miles on a single charge.

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