East Hampton Town Goes Forward With Clean Solar Initiative, Airport Contracts Are Up For Renewal

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As a step toward creating renewable energy for the Town of East Hampton, as well as for the South Fork, and to bring in a little revenue, East Hampton Town Board members agreed to go forward with a solar energy feed-in tariff program through the Public Service Electric and Gas Company, PSE&G.

The board accepted requests for proposals from three different contractors that would help them with the process of hooking into the electric grid.

The move was applauded by board watchers at Tuesday’s work session.

Frank Dalene, the chair of the Energy Sustainability Advisory Committee, which presented the board with its recommendation, said he is very pleased with the board’s decision.

Under the initiative, the town would place photovoltaic systems for solar electric production at various sites throughout the town. Mr. Dalene said that there are 10 locations, including at landfills, the brush dump and on the rooftops of town-owned properties, that may become solar sites.

The feed-in tariff program, known as FIT II, would provide fixed payments over a 20-year period for electricity produced by these panels. The price would be determined through the clearing price auction. If the project exceeds 40 megawatts of solar power, a premium of 7 cents per kilowatt hour would be added to the clearing price.

SunEdison Government Solutions, OnForce Solar/Quant Solar Solutions and S-Power Sustainable Power Group have proposed to install and maintain the solar panels for 20 years by leasing the sites from the town by paying a share of the payments from PSE&G for the energy they generate.

These proposals projected lease payments from $895,000 to $1.5 million per year. Lease payments over 20 years range from approximately $18 million to $30 million, depending on if the premium is added, Mr. Dalene said.

Gordian Raacke, the founder and executive director of Renewable Energy, Long Island, spoke for a few moments and said that the town’s move forward is a big day in East Hampton history.

“If this gets done and the products are constructed, it would put East Hampton from the lower tier to the very top nationwide in terms of solar renewable energy,” he said.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell agreed, saying although there is much work to be done, it is a step in the right direction.

“We have an opportunity here to produce non-tax revenue, a very significant amount, which is yet to be determined,” he said. “There are a lot of details to be worked out and vetted by the town in terms of exact locations, vetted through PSE&G and vetted with the selected contractors. This is an opportunity to produce renewable energy, a lower carbon footprint and to provide power that is needed on the South Fork. LIPA had announced that the South Fork has grown and it was not able to meet demands in the future. This has so many positives to it.”

Two East Hampton Airport contracts with subcontractors and outside professionals came up for renewal at Tuesday’s meeting as well.

Exelis AirScene Aircraft Tracking, which not only tracks air traffic, but gathers and archives data for three years, is up for a software licensing agreement, which is projected to cost $106,741 in 2014, a cost that has been budgeted for. According to Jim Brundige, the airport manager, the town installed the hardware for the system that it now owns in 2006 at a cost of $350,000, so the town is seemingly locked into Exelis. He said, however, Exelis offers a valuable tracking service that gives a lot of invaluable data.

Town Board members may also renew a two-year contract for Plane Noise Airport Complaint Management, a complaint line data collection system. The increase in the contract will be from $1,250 per month to $1,325, which has been budgeted for.

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