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Community choice aggregation, a revolution in energy procurement, is making a splash throughout Long Island.

Starting in May, the Town of Brookhaven will launch a CCA program, contracting with Manhattan-based Good Energy LLC for a fixed rate for natural gas consumers over the next two years.

In an interview, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) explained how the program would operate. Under the longstanding method of natural gas delivery in the town, National Grid — based in the U.K. and northeastern U.S. — purchases the supply and delivers the gas. CCA alters this dynamic.

“CCA is just a method of purchasing a commodity on a communitywide basis,” he said. Under the program, “all of the customers of National Grid in a certain area are getting together to say, ‘We’re going to jointly purchase fuel cooperatively from a different source.’”

That source, Good Energy, has agreed to supply gas at a fixed price of 69.5 cents per therm. “That locks in the price for all customers” for two years, the councilmember said. 

National Grid, which still operates the delivery systems, will continue to bill customers for those services. The only section of the bill affected by the changes will be for energy supply.

An August report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration states that the natural gas market saw record volatility last year due to demand changes, storms and geopolitical unrest. 

Given the many variables that contribute to fluctuations in gas prices, Kornreich suggested Brookhaven homeowners and businesses would be less beholden to the volatility of the market under CCA. “We’re going to pay just one price for the next two years,” he said. 

The town is also hedging that the market price of natural gas will rise over the next two years. If that happens, CCA will deliver discounted gas to Brookhaven ratepayers throughout the contracted period.

“The expectation that I have, as given to me by the corporate representatives with whom I met, is that there’s going to be a savings to the customers,” Kornreich said. “My hope is that this price is competitive over a two-year period.” 

He added, “Based on the models that they’ve shown me, this price will — over the long term — on average be lower than what they would have paid if they had just rode that market price.”

CCA: An energy revolution

‘A CCA can play a role in helping the residents to have more negotiation power.’ ­

— Gang He

Community choice aggregation first came about in the 1990s as a model of procuring energy whereby a municipality can pool the buying power of its residents to negotiate favorable energy contracts.

Gang He is an assistant professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University, whose research focuses on energy and climate policy. 

The assistant professor regarded the traditional relationship between energy consumers and suppliers as heavily skewed in favor of suppliers, referring to consumer protections under CCA as correcting the power imbalance.

“When utilities deal with residents, residents have no power,” Gang He said. “It’s a monopoly, and it’s heavily regulated by regulators. A CCA can play a role in helping the residents to have more negotiation power.”

Paul Fenn, founder and president of the Massachusetts-based CCA firm Local Power, drafted some of the original enabling legislation for CCA in Massachusetts, California and throughout the U.S. In an interview, he traced the history of CCA.

Fenn said vertically integrated investor-owned utilities have historically operated as monopolies and cartels, given their guaranteed rates of return by state regulators and energy market deregulation. CCA, he said, seeks to rectify this.

“The basic definition is that CCA is a model of energy supply that is neither a monopoly nor a cartel,” he said.

He likened the energy model to Costco. “The reason that large users achieve cheaper services is like going to Costco,” he said. “If you’re buying 200 rolls of toilet paper instead of 20, you pay a lower price.”

CCA applies this framework to the energy supply, giving the small consumer the perks of a bulk purchaser by pooling the buying power of entire communities. 

“It’s a way for small users … to gain the economic buying power enjoyed by the largest corporations,” he said, adding, “The aggregations are designed to deliver the benefits to the user and not to the supplier.”

Two factors, according to Fenn, have contributed to the rise of CCA nationwide. On the one hand, the economic model has been tailored and perfected to benefit individual users over large suppliers. On the other hand, renewable technologies have progressed to the point where they are now competitive with fossil fuels. 

Fenn characterized CCA as a revolution for capitalizing on the convergence of cheap renewable energy and consumer protections for utility power.

‘Community choice aggregation programs can be a great tool for getting community solar built, paid for and delivered to people.’ ­

— Anne Reynolds

Promoting renewables

Anne Reynolds is executive director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York, a group of private companies and nonprofits partnering to expand green energy opportunities throughout New York state. Reynolds indicated that CCA could be interpreted in two ways — as an economic model or as a way to promote green energy.

CCA “can be purely an economics choice,” she said. “You can think of it as a collective buying co-op,” but “most of the examples in New York state are when the community also wants to get a renewable energy product.”

Reynolds stated that CCA is not the main objective of ACE NY as CCA “hasn’t been the primary way that renewable energy products are getting built in New York, which is what we focus on,” she said.

Her organization instead emphasizes the construction of large-scale, grid-connected renewable energy projects through long-term contracts with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the state must procure 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2050. When asked whether CCAs offer a pathway toward a greener future in New York, Reynolds responded that there must be a mix of large-scale and small-scale projects.

“To get there, we’re going to need an unprecedented construction of renewable energy projects — offshore wind, wind, solar, batteries,” she said. “To get that done, these projects need to have a guaranteed market for their power, what they refer to as offtake agreements.”

She added, “Having those offtake agreements with the State of New York is one way to do it. Having the offtake agreements with communities in New York is another.”

One way CCA can promote new development in renewables, Reynolds said, is through community distributed generation, often referred to as community solar. 

“Community choice aggregation programs can be a great tool for getting community solar built, paid for and delivered to people,” she said. “For the state to meet its goals, and for Long Island especially, it’s going to require a little bit of everything.”

The Southampton model

Brookhaven is not the only municipality in Suffolk County implementing CCA. In the neighboring Town of Southampton, local officials are exploring a different posture, with an energy plan geared toward electricity instead of natural gas.

Lynn Arthur is the energy chair of Southampton’s volunteer sustainability committee and the founder of the nonprofit Peak Power Long Island, a consultancy group that services municipalities and their constituents on renewable energy technologies.

Arthur said there are currently two CCA administrators operating on Long Island, Good Energy and Bedford Hills-based Joule Community Power, Southampton’s CCA administrator. She notes that the difference in administrators has placed the two municipalities on separate trajectories.

In Southampton, the Town Board is working toward obtaining electricity from 100% renewable energy sources by 2025. Arthur said that goal is coming into focus.

“It’s only natural that we would try to get a power supply contract for 100% renewables for electricity,” she said.

To meet this task, Arthur suggested CCA would play a pivotal role. She is now advocating for the Southampton Town Board to submit a request for proposal to supply electricity from 100% renewable sources.

Brookhaven vs. Southampton

Weighing Brookhaven’s CCA against Southampton’s, former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) suggested that Southampton has the upper hand.

“I think Southampton’s model is the better one,” he said. “Electricity is the future. We should be moving away from natural gas.”

But, he added, “to the extent that the Town of Brookhaven can get started with [CCA] is promising. I think the inevitable success of what Southampton is doing will compel their next-door neighbor, Brookhaven,” to follow suit.

Despite Brookhaven’s gas-exclusive CCA, Fenn did not say that gas aggregation was inherently brown and electricity aggregation green. Rather, he said promoting renewables through CCA is a matter of how a program is implemented.

He objected, however, to the limited scope of Brookhaven’s CCA initiative. “This program is defined narrowly as a discount-only program, and I think that’s not a particularly good idea,” he said. “It’s hard to argue against stabilizing people’s rates, but it won’t help the environment if that’s all they’re doing, and it may hurt it.”

Creating competition

‘I like the idea of moving away from monolithic energy sourcing.’ ­

— Steve Englebright

Fenn regarded municipalities as sometimes prone to short-term thinking. While gas aggregation is a step toward unshackling ratepayers from the market’s volatility, he said it is incomplete.

Instead, he advised Brookhaven leaders to explore fuel switching, that is, transitioning residents from natural gas to electricity. The heat pump, for example, constitutes one way in which a home’s heating can be fulfilled by electric power instead of gas.

“Apart from the climate crisis, which says stop burning this stuff, there are so many reasons” to transition off fossil fuels, Fenn said. By fuel switching, “you’re adding electrical load when you do that, but you’re deleting gas demand.”

By creating a separate program for electrical aggregation, Fenn said Brookhaven could correct course, providing gas customers with greener options for heating. 

Asked whether the Brookhaven Town Board could add a second CCA administrator for electricity, he responded affirmatively. “Just deliver both, and you can,” he said.

Arthur emphasized that municipalities can have separate CCA administrators for gas and electricity. She suggested Brookhaven add a second administrator for electricity to further competition.

“Fundamentally, if competition is good, and if you want everybody to go to electricity and get away from gas, then you should have [CCA administrators] compete with each other,” she said.

Local vs. centralized intervention

Fenn noted the decline of municipal power since the Civil War, which he said had rendered local governments impotent compared to their state and federal counterparts. He criticized the tendency of local officials to outsource services to third-party vendors.

“Part of the problem is the dependence on third parties cripples the governments by making them intellectually captive to those service providers,” he said. “We believe municipalities should have skin in the game and should use the power that they have.”

Fenn attributed the climate and garbage crises in the United States to the decline of municipal powers and the failures of centralized government. He encouraged local policymakers to embrace programs like CCA to counteract these downward movements.

“There has to be knowledge, responsibility and therefore control” vested in municipal government, he said. “CCA uses contractors to provide services, but they’re firmly under the control of the municipality.”

While CCA proposes a local solution to a global climate phenomenon, questions remain about the best forms of intervention. 

For Reynolds, tackling the climate crisis requires a centralized intervention from the higher levels of government, with local governments doing their part as well. “We absolutely need both,” the ACE NY executive director said. 

For the state to reach its aggressive emission mandates, “you’re going to need larger power projects, too, like offshore,” she said. “But it shouldn’t be an either or question.”

‘It’s so clear that this is such a great opportunity to move the needle on renewables and, at the same time, lower costs for their constituents.’ ­

— Lynn Arthur

A sustainable future

Gang He viewed the growth in renewable energy, evidenced by over $1 trillion in worldwide investment last year, as a turning point in energy history. 

“Renewables have gained momentum,” the SBU assistant professor said. “The challenge is how do we maintain the momentum to deliver the outcome that we desire?”

Arthur recommends CCA to local officials as a way to do so. “It’s so clear that this is such a great opportunity to move the needle on renewables and, at the same time, lower costs for their constituents,” she said.

Asked whether Brookhaven’s CCA could spur interest in a similar program for electricity, Kornreich expressed optimism that the town’s program would foster better energy stewardship.

“I hope that it does open people’s eyes to the possibility and to get people more comfortable with the concept of being a more conscious consumer of utility power,” he said. “Whether it’s gas or electric, people can understand they can choose and that their choices will have an impact on the environment.”

Though acknowledging some of the drawbacks to the Brookhaven program, Englebright expressed encouragement about moving away from the preexisting procurement structure.

“Great journeys are made a step at a time,” the former assemblyman said. “I like the idea of moving away from monolithic energy sourcing.” He added, “A more distributed power system is to our advantage, ultimately — more competitive, less monolithic and more responsive to the public.”

For more details on the Town of Brookhaven’s Community Choice Aggregation Program, visit the website 

According to the website, “Eligible customers will soon receive additional information in the mail regarding product features, including information about the renewable energy option.”

Correction: In the print version of this article published on March 9, the town’s community choice aggregation administrator, Good Energy LLC, was misidentified as a London-based firm. In fact, Good Energy is headquartered in Manhattan. We apologize for the error.

Luisella Lari. Photo from BNL

By Daniel Dunaief

Some day, physicists and members of the public who benefit from their discoveries may be happy that Luisella Lari had limited musical and sports talent.

Lari, who grew up in Torino, Italy, tried numerous sports and instruments, especially with her parents’ encouragement.

Luisella Lari studies continuous feature drawings of the Electron Ion Collider. Photo from BNL

After gamely trying, Lari blazed her own trail, which has led her to become Project Manager and senior scientist for the Electron Ion Collider, a one-of-a-kind nuclear physics research facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory. BNL won the rights to construct the EIC, which the lab will plan and develop over the course of the next decade, from the Department of Energy in 2020.

By using a 2.4 mile circumference particle collider, physicists will collide polarized electrons into ions with polarized protons to answer a host of questions about the nature of matter. They will gather information about the basic building blocks of nuclei and how quarks and gluons, the particles inside neutrons and protons, interact dynamically through the strong force to generate the fundamental properties of these particles, such as mass and spin.

Lari, who joined the EIC effort on October 3rd, described her role, which includes numerous meetings, calls and coordinating with multinational and multi-state teams, as a “dream job.”

“I’m so excited to be a part of a project that can help the next generation of physicists,” Lari said. “It’s my turn to participate in the construction” of the cutting edge facility. BNL is coordinating with numerous other labs nationally, including the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator in Virginia, an internationally on the project.

Amid her numerous responsibilities, Lari will ensure that effective project management systems, cost controls and project schedules are developed, documented and implemented. Core competencies of the team she is responsible for include procurement, quality and safety.

EIC applications

The EIC has numerous potential applications across a host of fields. It could lead to energy-efficient accelerators, which could lower the cost of accelerators to make and test computer chips. The EIC could also provide energetic particles that can treat caner cells and improve the design of solar cells, batteries and catalysts. The EIC may also help develop new kinds of drugs and other medical treatments.

Lari explained that she provides a review and approval of the safety evaluations performed by experts. She suggested this suits her background as she did similar work earlier in her career.

Luisella Lari on a recent vacation to Mackinac Island.

Lari has made it a priority to hire a diversified workforce of engineers, technicians and quality and safety managers who can contribute to a project that BNL will likely start constructing in 2026 and 2027.

“I am a strong supporter of building a diverse workforce at levels of the organization,” she explained in an email. “I am strongly convinced that it will add value to any work environment and in particular in a scientific community.”

Applying her experience

Lari isn’t just an administrator and a project coordinator —  she is also a physicist by training.

She earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from Politecnico di Torino University in Italy and a PhD in physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne in Switzerland.

Early in her professional career, Lari worked at Thales Alenia Space, an aerospace company in Turin, Italy, where she collaborated for the development of her master’s thesis. She worked for two years at the company, performing tasks that included testing internal fluid supply lines for one of the International Space Station’s pressurized modules that connects the United States, European and Japanese laboratories in orbit.

She enjoyed the opportunity to work for a “really interesting project” and still routinely uses the NASA system engineering handbook.

She also worked for about a dozen years as an applied physicist and planning officer at CERN, a particle physics lab, which is on the border between France and Switzerland near Geneva.

Lari also served as a project manager and scientist for the European Spallation Source, a neutron source under construction in Sweden. She coordinated ESS Accelerator Project budgets and ran data-driven safety analyses.

Recently, Lari was a senior manager at Fermi National Accelerator in Illinois, where she coordinated international partner contributions to the Proton Improvement Plan II, which upgraded the accelerator complex.

A need to know

When Lari was in middle school, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant melted down. As a school assignment, she had to explain what happened. At that point, she said she understood nothing, which motivated her to want to become a nuclear engineer.

She was “fascinated by nuclear energy.” When she worked at CERN, she had not been studied much about accelerator physics. She attended meetings where sophisticated discussions physics took place and was driven to learn the material.

“All my life, which started when I was a child, I wanted to understand the world around me,” she said. Her work in project management for scientific projects is also her passion, she said. “My mother would say to me when I was younger that I should choose my job in a way that I would do something I like, because I will spend half my life doing it.”

In addition to committing to understanding the physics and helping other scientists pursue their curiosity, Lari said she appreciates the opportunity to collaborate.

While Lari never became proficient in music or athletics, she enjoys dancing and is looking forward to attending Broadway musicals in New York.

She has hosted her parents at each of the places where she has worked, broadening their horizons.

As for her work, Lari recalls being impressed by the ability of the managers at the LHC to summarize complex work in a few pages and to make big picture decisions that affected so many other scientists. She became impressed and inspired “by the power of the project administrator approach,” she said. She also appreciates the opportunities to interact with experts in several fields, which gives her the chance to “better understand and learn.”

Photo from Brookhaven Town website

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) has encountered several hurdles throughout his tenure. In Part II of this two-part series, he forecasts the upcoming redistricting process for the town council, highlights the challenges of offering adequate public transportation to Brookhaven residents and shares the lessons learned from his decades in public office.   

What are your expectations for the upcoming redistricting of the Brookhaven Town Council?

I don’t expect many changes whatsoever. I don’t expect it to be controversial. There will be some people who are partisan who will want to make it controversial, but it will not be partisan.

I expect it will be done fairly. I do not expect many changes at all. I do expect that the minority-majority district stays together, and that’s the district that includes North Bellport and Gordon Heights, which are the two major minority areas in our town, as well as Coram.

So I don’t expect many changes at all. The only changes that would have to be made are for the shift in population that the [2020] Census would project.

Now I don’t have anything to do with redistricting. We have a Redistricting Committee and we are waiting for the Redistricting Committee to come and offer choices, which will be discussed by everyone on the Town Board.

But the council will be voting on the maps, correct?

At some point, but I’m not going to vote for any major changes. I expect there to be only minor changes as reflected by a shift in population. And I do expect to keep the 4th [Council] District together, which includes Gordon Heights and North Bellport, so that those major minority communities continue to have the opportunity for representation.

In draft maps circulated by the Redistricting Committee, there is a proposal to split the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville community, along with Mount Sinai, between two council districts. Would you vote under any scenario to separate those communities of interest?

There might be a scenario in which I would take a look at that. You’re asking a simple question to a complicated answer. There are other factors that you have to take into account, such as keeping a minority district intact. The second district, which is represented by Jane Bonner [R-Rocky Point], has to grow. Where does that grow? How does that affect things?

If we don’t do that, how does that affect the other districts? Because it’s like a Rubik’s Cube: You have to turn all the sides to get it perfect. I want to hear their explanation and I certainly want to listen to why they thought that was the better choice. I want to listen to that, and I’m not about to rush to judgment on anything without hearing a full explanation, and I’m sure those issues will be raised at our public hearing.

What are your thoughts on the state of public transit in your township?

I am a huge supporter of public transportation because there are a lot of people that depend on it. The bus system in this county is so broken. We don’t get even half of the subsidy that Nassau County gets. It’s just incredible, the lack of coordination between buses and trains, which is so needed because not everyone owns a car or wants to use a car.

Do you believe that the Long Island Rail Road is doing enough to expand services into Brookhaven?

I live in the largest town [by area] and the second most populous town in the State of New York, and yet it is served by 19th-century technology: diesel, which is a polluting, dirty fuel.

I have been beating and beating on this issue since the day I came here. We should have had electrification of all of our lines much earlier than this and we’re still arguing over it. Every year we argue that, the price goes up. So we’re stuck with diesel, which is a polluting fuel.

Other than a mile on the main line in Ronkonkoma, all of my three lines — the southern, the main line and the northern line — are all diesel. Electric ends at Huntington, and from Huntington to Port Jeff it’s all diesel. Electric ends at Ronkonkoma and everything east is diesel. Electric ends on the Montauk line at Babylon, and everything east is diesel.

The investment has been skewed away from this Island. Our voice has not been raised, there hasn’t been an investment in providing modern technology. And I’m talking about 20th-century technology, which is electric; 21st-century technology is maglev [a train technology supported by magnetic repulsion] … Forget it, they’re not even talking about the future.

Most 20th-century technology has bypassed my town because the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] has not made any investment. All the money seems to be funneled into the City of New York. We have a million-and-a-half people out here in Suffolk County, and that’s wrong.

It’s so frustrating. I am passionate about these issues and I am in public office to do something, not to sit here and collect a salary but to do something and to make a change for the better for everyone in this town.

Could you summarize your approach to budgeting, taxation and public expenditures?

I believe there’s a role for public expenditures. I also believe, living as I do on Long Island, that our taxes are way too high and that we have too many levels of government. It’s amazing: If you go elsewhere in the United States, you don’t have all the levels of government that we have here.

I’m a great believer in — as much as possible — not raising taxes and being fiscally responsible. Someone said, “Can you sum up your political philosophy?” Yeah, I’m a fiscal conservative, a social moderate and an environmental liberal. It’s really simple.

When I arrived, it was no fault of Supervisor [Mark] Lesko [D] or Supervisor [Brian] Foley [D], both of whom I had known for many, many years, that they were caught up in the 2008 recession. Things were bad, the town had taken on debt and we were not viewed as financially stable.

When I came [into office], I said, “Let me see the last audit.” The audit had numerous exceptions that pointed out the failings of the town. I worked on that audit and those exceptions to improve our financial condition. And I have to say, I am blessed with a very good finance commissioner, Tamara Branson. She is very, very good, along with a number of other people in the finance department.

I worked with them and the following year, the rating agencies gave the town a AAA bond rating and we’ve never had less for as long as I have been supervisor. We’ve always stayed at or below the tax cap and have always tried to limit and look at things on how we could be more efficient in delivering services because there’s a tremendous amount of inefficiency built into governmental services.

What motivates you to continue your work to this day?

I’m motivated because I see that with effort and energy, you can make a difference, if only incrementally. I am about doing all I can to move Brookhaven forward. I owe it to the people that elected me.

There are a lot of bad things about public life, but the great thing is that you meet a lot of great people. You get involved with civics and other organizations; you see people donating their time and energy for the public good; and it’s great to work with people like that. We have a lot of nonprofits and civics that we work with to make this town better.

That keeps my motivation going, and I’m just going to continue to do that and focus on the job as supervisor every day I come to work, whether it’s on the small problems or the big problems.

Looking back, which project or initiative are you proudest of? And conversely, what do you view as your greatest setback along the way?

I would say that the things I’m proudest of are saving as much open space and farmland as possible — both as a [county] legislator and a supervisor — and putting a plan together to preserve the Carmans River Watershed. I view that as a tremendous achievement, not of myself, but something that will endure because it will mean that these areas will not be developed.

My greatest disappointment is not getting people to do the right thing, like the MTA with electrification, or the [New York Department of Environmental Conservation] on working with us to strengthen recycling. These are all regulatory things, and we need people to be less regulatory and more innovative in terms of approaching issues such as recycling and mass transit.

Also, I have been here for a while and I see the structure of government. Brookhaven would be much better off by itself as a county. To have one level of government to be able to go to and get things accomplished would probably be better, but that’s not practicable and that’s not happening.

That being said, you set yourself up, you work at it every day, and hopefully you will make a difference. The biggest thing I can do when I’m eventually retired is to look back upon the town and say, “I left it better than when I found it.”

What do you consider to be your legacy at Town Hall?

I think it would be embodied in the phrase, “Save what’s left.”

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

First of all, I’m very honored to be a supervisor and I remind myself every day of what an honor it is to serve the people of Brookhaven, who have been extremely kind to me by electing me by large margins each time I’ve run. They have given me the confidence and the faith to do their work every day.

I am so lucky to have the trust and support of the majority of the people in this town. I don’t forget it and I am very grateful for it, so I would say thank you for the opportunity to serve. I hope that those who follow me come with the same passion, commitment and dedication. And I am sure that there are many who came before me who did the same.

If we can continue that, our society is going to be a good society and my grandchildren are going to grow up in this town. I am just honored to be here.

Enyuan Hu (front) and Peter Khalifah, two of the principal investigators for battery research projects that just received funding from the Department of Energy, at NSLS-II's X-ray Powder Diffraction beamline.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $209 million in funding for 26 new laboratory projects focusing on electric vehicles (EV), advanced batteries, and connected vehicles. Scientists from DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory will play key roles in two EV battery projects—one aimed at understanding and improving materials for battery anodes and cathodes and another to guide the design of safer electrolytes. The funding comes from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

“President Biden’s Administration wants to make it easier for millions of American families and businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in a DOE statement announcing the funding. “By developing smarter vehicle batteries, we can make these technologies cheaper and more accessible, while positioning America to be become a global leader of EV infrastructure production and clean energy jobs.”

Brookhaven Lab will be involved in projects aimed at understanding and refining the materials that make up all major components of batteries []—the anode (negative electrode), cathode (positive electrode), and the electrolyte that shuttles charged ions from one electrode to the other as electrons move in the opposite direction through an outside circuit to provide power. (For rechargeable batteries, like the ones in electric vehicles, the whole system runs in a reversible manner, allowing for repeated charge and discharge cycles.)

Both Brookhaven projects will make use of research capabilities at two Brookhaven Lab user facilities, which operate with funding from the DOE Office of Science: the National Synchrotron Light Source II [] (NSLS-II), which produces extremely bright x-rays for studying a wide range of materials, and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials [] (CFN), home to a suite of electron microscopes [] and nanoscale fabrication tools []. These facilities give scientists access to information about the atomic-level structure and chemical properties of battery materials, including under operating conditions. Scientists can use what they learn from these characterization studies to fine-tune and test new material designs with the goal of improving and optimizing performance. These two projects will be carried out by scientists in Brookhaven Lab’s Chemistry Division.

Battery500 Phase 2

As partners in “Battery500 Phase 2,” which is led by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a team of Brookhaven scientists will conduct studies to identify battery electrode materials with increased energy density. Such materials could reduce the size and weight of batteries used in electric vehicles and/or extend the vehicle’s driving distance for a given battery weight with better safety characteristics. Identifying lower-cost materials is another primary goal.

The total budget of Battery500 Phase 2 is $75M for the next 5 years. It is a renewal of funding for the original Battery500 Consortium, which was established in 2016 [].

Under the new funding arrangement, Brookhaven Lab will receive $1.3 million per year for the next five years. Brookhaven chemist Xiao-Qing Yang will serve as the general coordinator for the Battery500 Phase 2 consortium and as Brookhaven Lab’s point of contact. Brookhaven associate chemist Enyuan Hu is another principal investigator (PI) for this project. And Peter Khalifah, another Brookhaven PI, who holds a joint appointment at Stony Brook University, will serve as one of the two leaders of a cross-cutting thrust on materials characterization within the Consortium.

“Our team has made important discoveries over the past five years during Battery500 phase 1, which resulted in increased funding for Brookhaven and an increased project-leadership role for Battery500 Phase 2,” said Yang. “We are quite excited to be a member of this great consortium and confident in the success of this Phase 2 project.”

As an example of the success of the original Battery500 funding initiative, the Brookhaven team, working in collaboration with colleagues at PNNL and elsewhere, provided important insight into the electrochemical surface reactions of lithium metal anodes []—one of the key components being explored to fulfill the energy density sought by Battery500. They also identified the failure mechanisms of these lithium metal anodes [] after long-term cycling. In addition, the team uncovered evidence that high voltage charging can induce strain and crack []ing in nickel-rich cathode materials, and developed exceptionally sensitive methods for quantifying defects [] associated with disorder across atomic sites. Results from these last two studies are guiding the design of improved cathodes.

In the next five years, the Brookhaven team will continue their efforts to develop and deploy sensitive characterization techniques that can illuminate the changes that occur in lithium metal anodes, metal oxide and sulfur cathodes, and new electrolytes during their use in rechargeable batteries. These efforts will help understand and overcome the factors limiting the performance of this exceptionally high energy density class of batteries and will accelerate the rate at which this technology can become commercially viable.

Solid state electrolytes

Another Brookhaven team, led by Enyuan Hu, will spearhead a new project to study solid state battery electrolytes. Electrolytes allow negatively and positively charged ions to flow between a battery’s anode and cathode. Most of today’s EV batteries use organic liquid electrolytes, which are highly volatile and flammable.

“Solid state batteries are intrinsically safer and have potentially higher energy density than conventional liquid-electrolyte-based batteries,” Hu said.

The Brookhaven team (one of 17 projects just awarded funding for studying solid state electrolytes under the new announcement) will conduct research on ceramic-polymer composite solid-state electrolytes. The total funding for this 5-year project is $2.5 million, including $300K per year for Brookhaven Lab and $200K per year for collaborators from Harvard and the University of California, Irvine.

This project leverages the electrolyte expertise within the Chemistry Division of Brookhaven Lab, the advanced characterization tools available at NSLS II and CFN, the ceramic and polymer expertise at Harvard and UC Irvine, and the established long-term collaboration among the three institutions.

“These important projects will help advance the development of electric vehicle batteries,” said Alex Harris, director of Brookhaven Lab’s Energy Sciences Directorate and acting chair of the Lab’s Chemistry Division. “We are grateful for the sustained funding for both the specific battery research projects and for the user facilities that enable the fundamental scientific studies that will push these technologies forward.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), in the DOE statement, said, “I am proud to have fought for this vital DOE funding to bring innovation home to New York State and our world-class Brookhaven National Laboratory. This investment is a down payment on a greener, more prosperous future for all of us, and I look forward to supporting more of these projects in the future.”

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit []

Follow @BrookhavenLab on Twitter [] or find us on Facebook [].

File photo by Desirée Keegan

For the past six years, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) has represented Legislative District 12, which includes the southern section of the Town of Smithtown and western Brookhaven. This year she is running once again, and while Mike Siderakis will be listed as the Democratic candidate come election day, the candidate who ran unsuccessfully for state senator against Mario Mattera (R-St. James) last year stopped actively campaigning this summer.

Before taking on the role of county legislator, Kennedy worked for 13 years as a legislative aide for Donald Blydenburgh (R-Smithtown) and her husband John Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset), who for the last six years has been Suffolk County comptroller. When her husband won his bid for the comptroller’s seat, she stepped into his former position in a special election six months before she had to run again.

“I love my job,” Kennedy said during a recent phone interview with TBR News Media.


Kennedy said the last two years have been tough dealing with the issues the pandemic has presented as well as the restrictions that went along with it to curb the virus. She said the changing rules made it challenging.

“It created all sorts of new issues,” she said.

The former nurse said she believes in wearing masks and getting vaccinated, but she did take issue with the state’s shutdown orders of businesses. The legislator and her office staff were busy earlier in the year helping residents get immunized when it was first difficult to find appointments. She said they secured more than 500 vaccination appointments. “I think that our purpose should be to aid and assist human beings and not to torture them,” she said.

Kennedy also said she is concerned with some of the anti-mask and anti-vaccine rallies and some of the information and arguments that are out there, even though she respects everyone’s rights to express their concerns and opinions.

“They have the right to their opinions, but let me tell you my opinion and how I feel the way I do,” she said. “And then you can keep your opinion or you can think about mine.”

Legislative bills

Kennedy said regarding sponsoring bills she chooses wisely. “I tried to put in a limited amount of bills and just do more government,” she said.

She is most proud of her initiatives that have helped preserve land, and the legislator said it’s important to get out there and meet with all of the people involved and discuss all the options with them.

An example of her preservation efforts is the 2018 acquisition and preservation of the Hauppauge Springs that she led along with Seatuck Environmental Association. The 42-acre property is located on the south side of Route 347 in Hauppauge and there had been a builder interested in constructing eight houses on land at part of one of the headwaters of the Nissequogue River. 

Kennedy said she made sure to meet with both the owner of the property and the builder’s lawyer. It was an issue the county legislator was extremely familiar with, as she said it was on the county’s list of environmentally sensitive priority properties for more than 20 years.

“Putting up those houses would have been the end of the Nissequogue River,” she said, adding waste from them would go into the headwaters.

County budget

With more money coming the county’s way in 2022 due to COVID-19 aid, Kennedy said she agrees with paying off pension debts and other monies the county borrowed. However, she said Suffolk should also save as much as possible because she fears it will run out of funds by 2023.

“I would love to give everybody who wants things everything, but we can’t,” she said.

The 12th Legislative District includes Smithtown, Nesconset, Hauppauge, the Village of the Branch, Lake Grove and parts of St. James, Commack, Lake Ronkonkoma and Centereach. The district is bounded roughly by Route 25 to the north, Commack Road to the west, Townline Road to the south, and Oxhead Road to the east, with Veterans Memorial Highway running through the heart of the district northwest to southeast.

The Suffolk Plaza shopping center that once housed a Waldbaum’s in South Setauket sits half empty, a far cry from where it was just a decade ago. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven has proposed a new zoning that officials said could revitalize vacant or underutilized shopping centers or other structures throughout the town.

At their Dec. 3 meeting, the town voted unanimously to adopt a new floating zoning code called Commercial Redevelopment District, which would allow developers to apply for permission to redevelop aging property into a combination of retail and apartment space.

The old section of the Mt. Sinai Shopping Center that housed the King Kullen has sat empty for months, and is just one of several empty former big box stores on the North Shore. Photo by Kyle Barr

“What we’re looking to do is to stimulate the revitalization of abandoned vacant and underutilized commercial shopping centers, bowling alleys and health clubs,” said town Planning Commissioner Beth Reilly. 

She added that this new zoning will “encourage flexibility in sight and architectural design, encourage redevelopment that blends residential, commercial, cultural and institutional uses, and encourage redevelopment that’s walkable, affordable, accessible and distinctive in the town.”

Site requirements would be a 5-acre minimum for such commercial centers and sites that have been previously used but then demolished. It permits uses for all zonings except such things as heavy industrial and auto uses. There would be no setbacks for nonresidential uses, but a 25-foot minimum setback for residential use and 50-foot maximum height.

The special zoning is meant to be kept free of big-box stores and is restricted to anything less than 40,000 square feet of space for commercial properties. Also, the zoning incentivizes certain kinds of development through allowing for increases in density, such as being near the Long Island Rail Road or if a business owner  uses green technology.

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) restated that Long Island does not need new development “as much as we need to develop what we have that has fallen into disrepair.”

The proposal did receive a letter of support from the Port Jefferson Station hub study committee. President of the PJS/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, Jennifer Dzvonar, said she was in support, and that she thinks it will create downtown-type areas in places that might not have that sort of downtown already.

“It will encourage commercial property owners to update and revitalize their establishments, which will entice additional local businesses … instead of leaving their locations vacant to become blighted,” she said.

Mitch Pally, a Stony Brook resident and CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, said the new zoning should benefit developers. 

“Long Islanders no longer have large tracts of land,” he said. “We must now redevelop — reuse what we already used, whether it’s been a good way or a bad way. The ability to know from the code what you can do, and what you’re going to be able to get, allows for better financing opportunities.”

The Town Board left the issue open for comment until Dec. 17. The Three Village Civic Association sent the town a letter Dec. 12 signed by the civic’s land use chair, Herb Mones, with some critiques of the proposed law, saying the language of what was considered vacant or underutilized was unclear, and that the CRD will incentivize some property owners to neglect their structures to get access to the new “generous terms afforded by the new zoning.” 

“We must now redevelop — reuse what we already used, whether it’s been a good way or a bad way.”

— Mitch Pally

The letter also criticized the height allowance under the code, calling it “too high for most hamlets” in the town. The letter also shared the civic’s anxieties of increased density.

“Considering that there were only two speakers at the public hearing on Dec 3, both representing commercial interests, and no community leaders or members of the civic community participating on such an important proposal, we believe that this new zoning legislation to create a new zoning code for commercial property in the Town of Brookhaven would benefit from more input of Brookhaven’s civic community,” Mones wrote in his letter.

The change also repeals the town’s previous Blight to Light code. That code was passed in 2010 under previous Supervisor Mark Lesko (D), which in a similar vein to the current code was designed to remediate blighted properties by incentivizing development through a scoring system. Based on how a developer scored, they could receive incentives such as building permit refunds and an expedited review process.

Officials said that system had issues, and that the code had only been used twice, once in a Coram redevelopment project, and again with Jefferson Meadows, a project designed for Port Jefferson Station that was never built. That planned 96-apartment building met opposition from residents almost a decade ago. The Port Times Record reported at the time that residents disapproved of Blight to Light’s self-scoring system and that such projects did not conform to the Port Jefferson Station hamlet study. 

“This has been a long time coming,” said Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station). “Port Jeff Station has a number of abandoned vacant and underutilized properties, and the Blight to Light code was not necessarily addressing that, so we’re hoping that this code can now create a different mechanism to address these types of properties.”

Unlike Blight to Light, there is not a special permit, but applicants would have to come to the Town Board to seek approval. There is also a time limit on these approvals, and they are taken away if the developer does not make good on trying to build.

“This puts the power in the Town Board level,” Reilly said.

The town is holding its next meeting Dec. 17 where a follow-up public hearing is scheduled.

Suffolk County officials said we are certainly in the midst of the pandemic's second wave. Stock photo

Responding to numerous 911 calls on Monday, Nov. 30, just after midnight, the Suffolk County Police Department arrived at 51 Hawkins Lane in Brookhaven to find an estimated 300 to 400 people arriving for a party.

Police said it took about four hours to break up a gathering that was just getting started. The owner of the 5,000 square foot property, which is listed on Air BNB for $399 per night, was one of the people who called the police.

SCPD Chief Stuart Cameron said the people who rented the house who officials believe came from New Jersey would face civil fines of up to $15,000 and criminal charges that include criminal nuisance in the second degree and section 12-B of the public health law, which are the sections the police have been using for COVID-19-related enforcement.

The “prompt response” by the police and the “effective dispersion of the crowd” enabled the police to avert a “potential supers spreader event,” Cameron said on a call with the media run by County Executive Steve Bellone (D).

“We have gotten significant cooperation from the homeowner,” Bellone said on the conference call. “When they found that the home was being used for this purpose, they did report that. We will be holding accountable the people who did hold this party.”

Bellone cautioned anyone who might consider coming in to Suffolk County from out of town that they will not be allowed to skirt COVID-19 public health rules.

“Renting a home and thinking you will be able to get away with that … that’s not going to happen,” Bellone said. “We’ve worked too hard to allow selfish and reckless individuals to set back our efforts to continue to protect people’s health.”

Bellone thanked the SCPD for their efforts.

Bellone urged people to continue to follow public health guidelines, particularly as the holidays approach. He said there was hope on the horizon with a vaccine and that there is an “end in sight. We need to do the best we can to follow the guidance so we can contain this second wave.”

Across the county, Chief Cameron described the number of 911 calls over Thanksgiving as a “handful,” which was below his expectations. In the cases when the police did arrive at a home, they didn’t notice “any gross deviations,” which the police chief described as a “testament to the people of Suffolk County.”

A Tough Beginning

As for the number of positive tests, the trend continues to provide warning signs to area officials about the return of the spread of a virus the county had originally beat back earlier this year.

Positive tests for COVID-19 stood at 5.2% as of Dec. 1, with 609 new cases in the previous day. The county hasn’t had a rate above five percent since May 17.

Hospitalizations now stand at 248, which is the highest since June 3.

“Those numbers are alarming to say the least,” Bellone said. “There’s no doubt we are in that second wave we talked about for so long.”

The county and state will now incorporate hospital capacity into cluster zone designations in determining yellow, orange and red levels.

As of the beginning of this month, 28% of hospital beds were available, with 32% of intensive care unit beds available.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has indicated that hospitals in the state need to prepare for surges by identifying doctors and nurses, preparing field hospitals and planning for “all the things we did in the spring,” Bellone said.

Bellone reinforced a message about schools he’s been sharing for several weeks, even as positive cases continue to increase. The county executive said Suffolk is not seeing the spread happening in schools in any significant level.

“Keeping our schools open is critical for students, families and for our continued economic recovery,” Bellone said.

Bellone reminded residents that the majority of new cases seem to be coming from small gatherings, where family and friends who feel safer with each other are congregating, often without masks and, at times, within six feet of each other.

“It is critically important that people limit those gatherings,” Bellone said.

The county continues to rely on contact tracing to try to limit the spread of the virus. On the first of November, the county had 30 people in place who were contact tracing, reflecting the smaller number of positive tests. Now, the county has over 200 contact tracers, who are reaching out to positive cases to connect with those who might have been exposed to the virus.

In the last two weeks, the county had 7,948 confirmed cases. Contact tracers reached 6,114 people, with 3,801 of those providing contacts, which represents less than half the total.

Dr. Shahida Iftikhar, deputy commissioner for the Department of Health, said the number of people who didn’t provide contacts included those who weren’t within six feet for 10 minutes or more of other people.

James Misewich Photo from BNL

By Daniel Dunaief

Even as the pandemic continues to cast a pall over the prospects for the economy, the federal government is finding ways to support science. Recently, as a part of a $625 billion award to a host of institutions, the Department of Energy earmarked $115 million over five years for a part of a project led by Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The science, called quantum information systems, could have applications in a wide range of industries, from health care to defense to communications, enabling higher levels of artificial intelligence than the current binary system computers have used for decades. By benefiting from the range of options between the 0s and 1s that typically dictate computer codes, researchers can speed up and enhance the development of programs that use artificial intelligence.

The investment “underscores the confidence the federal government has with respect to how important this technology is,” said James Misewich, the Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Photon Sciences at BNL. “Despite the challenges of the time, this was a priority.”

Local leaders hailed the effort for its scientific potential and for the future benefit to the Long Island economy.

“I have seen strong support inside of Congress and the administration for funding requests coming out of the Department of Energy for ideas on how to move the DOE’s mission forward,” said U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1). “I have also seen a very high level of appreciation and respect for BNL, its leadership, its staff, its mission and its potential.”

Zeldin said the average American spends more time than ever engaging with technologies and other discoveries that were made possible by the first quantum revolution. “Here we are on the verge of a second quantum revolution and BNL is at the forefront of it,” Zeldin said.

Zeldin sees limitless possibilities for quantum information science, as researchers believe these efforts will lead to advancements in health care, financial services, national security and other aspects of everyday life. “This next round of quantum advancements seeks to overcome some of the vulnerabilities that were identified and the imperfections in the first wave,” he said.

State Senator James Gaughran (D-Northport) expects quantum science to provide a significant benefit to the region. “We believe this is going to be a major part of our economic future,” he said. “It is a huge victory for Long Island.”

The return on investment for the state and the federal government will also materialize in jobs growth. This is “going to employ a lot of people,” Gaughran said. “It will help to rebuild the type of economy we need on Long Island. The fact that we are on the front lines of that will lead to all sorts of private sector development.”

While the technology has enormous potential, it is still in early enough stages that research groups need to work out challenges before they can fully exploit quantum technology. BNL, specifically, will make quantum error correction a major part of their effort.

As quantum computers start working, they run into a limitation called a noisy intermediate scale quantum problem, or NISQ. These problems come from errors that lower the confidence of getting the right answer. The noise is a current limitation for the best quantum computers. “They can only go so far before you end up with an error that is fatal” to the computing process, Misewich said.

By using the co-design center for quantum advantage, Misewich and his partners hope to use the materials that “beat the NISQ error by having the combination of folks with a great team that are all talking to one another.”

The efforts will use a combination of classical computing and theory to determine the next steps in the process of building a reliable quantum information system-driven computer.

Misewich’s group is also focusing on communication. The BNL scientists hope to provide a network that enables distributed computing. In classical computing, this occurs regularly, as computer scientists distribute a problem over multiple computers.

Similarly, with quantum computing, scientists plan to distribute the problem across computers that need to talk to each other.

Misewich is pleased with the combination of centers that will collaborate through this effort. “The federal government picked these centers because they are somewhat complementary,” he said. The BNL-led team has 24 partners, which include IBM, Stony Brook University, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Yale University, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Columbia University and Howard University, among others.

“We had to identify the best team and bring in the right people to fill the gaps,” Misewich explained.

Using a combination of federal funds and money from New York State, BNL plans to build a new beamline at the National Synchrotron Lightsource II, which will operate at very low temperatures, allowing scientists to study the way these materials work under real word conditions.

BNL would like the work they are doing to have an application in calculations in three areas: the theory of the nucleus, quantum chemistry, which explores ways to design better materials, and catalysis.

A quantum computer could help make inroads in some challenging calculations related to electron-electron interactions in superconducting materials, Misewich said, adding that the entire team feels a “tremendous sense of excitement” about the work they are doing.”

Indeed, the group has been working together for close to two years, which includes putting the team in place, identifying the problems they want to tackle and developing a compelling strategy for the research to make a difference.

The group is expecting to produce a considerable amount of research and will likely develop various patents that will “hopefully transfer the technology so companies can start to build next generation devices,” Misewich said.

Along with local leaders, Misewich hopes these research efforts will enable the transfer of this technology to a future economy for New York State.

This effort will also train a numerous graduate and post doctoral students, who will be the “future leaders that are going to drive that economy,” Misewich said.

The research will explore multiple levels of improvement in the design of quantum computers which they hope will all work at the same time to provide an exponential improvement in the ability of the computer to help solve problems and analyze data.

Seven students took top honors and 15 others received honorable mentions in the first-ever virtual version of the annual elementary school science fair sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton. Girls and boys in kindergarten to grade 6 entered 129 science and engineering projects for the competition. They represented 38 elementary schools across Suffolk County.

The seven students to receive top honors as well as medals and ribbons are kindergartener Jude Roseto of Cutchogue East Elementary School, Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District, “Friction with Bubbles”; first grader Emerson Spooner of Raynor Country Day School, “Save the Earth: One Plastic Straw at a Time”; second grader Sara Jain of Tamarac Elementary School, Sachem Central School District, “Shrink It Up”; and third grader Mia Trani of Fort Salonga Elementary School, Kings Park Central School District, “Housing the Homeless.”

Top honors also went to fourth grader Rebecca Bartha of Raynor Country Day School, “Dynamic Duckweed: A Solution to Pollution in Local Water”; fifth grader Reilly Riviello of Cherry Avenue Elementary School, Sayville Public Schools, “What Material is the best to protect your property from Flash Flooding” and sixth grader Emma Tjersland of Hauppauge Middle School, Hauppauge School District, “Drug Facts: Impacts of Medicine Exposure on Daphnia Magna Heart Rate.”

“Thinking like scientists and engineers is so important for students — asking questions, testing assumptions, drawing conclusions, and thinking about future research,” said Amanda Horn, a Brookhaven Lab educator who coordinated both the virtual science fair and a new Science Share program. “The Lab has hosted science fairs for years to encourage students and we didn’t want COVID-19 to stop us in 2020.”

Science fairs at Brookhaven Lab were typically held in person at the Lab site and students, their families, teachers, and school administrators were invited to attend. With schools closed and Brookhaven Lab’s site mostly inaccessible to limit the spread of COVID-19, Horn, Scott Bronson and their colleagues in Brookhaven’s Office of Educational Programs (OEP) quickly adjusted plans to hold the 2020 science competition virtually.

As in years past, students first qualified for the Lab’s fair by winning their schools’ “local” science fairs, some of which were also held virtually. Projects completed by individual students and groups were accepted — one project per grade per school.

Instead of bringing projects to Brookhaven Lab for an all-day on-site event, parents and teachers submitted photos of students’ projects. OEP staff then distributed the photographs and a rubric among 23 judges, comprising Brookhaven Lab scientists, engineers, and technical staff as well as teachers from local elementary schools. To maintain objectivity and limit potential biases, information such as students’ names, schools, and districts was not shared.

The 15 students who received Honorable Mentions were kindergarteners Taran Sathish Kumar of Bretton Woods Elementary School, Hauppauge School District, “Strength of Spaghetti” and Evelyn Van Winckel of Fort Salonga Elementary School, Kings Park Central School District, “Are Your Hands Clean?”; first-graders Mason Rothstein of Lincoln Avenue Elementary School, Sayville Public Schools, “3,2,1…Let It Rip” and John Henry of Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School, Rocky Point Union Free School District, “Lego Rubber Band Cars”; and second-graders Agnes Van Winckel of Fort Salonga Elementary School, Kings Park Central School District, “The Flight of a Football” and Cassie Danseraeu and Katelynn Hausmann of West Middle Island Elementary School, Longwood Central School District, “Can Aloe Vera Juice Save Strawberries from Mold?”

Honorable mentions were also given to third-graders Mihir Sathish Kumar of Bretton Woods Elementary School, Hauppauge School District, “Strength of Electromagnets” and Matthew Mercorella of Sunrise Drive Elementary School, Sayville Public Schools, “Think Twice Before Melting the Ice”; fourth-graders Samuel Canino of R.J.O. Intermediate School, Kings Park Central School District, “Riddled With Puck Shot,” Jack Gomez of R.J.O. Intermediate School, Kings Park Central School District, “Infinipower” and Madelyn Kalinowski of Laurel Hill School, “Wash Away Germs”; fifth-graders Alexandra Barry of Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School, Remsenburg-Speonk Union Free School District, “Mutiny on the Bounty” and Gavin Pickford of R.J.O. Intermediate School, Kings Park Central School District, “Is This The Last Straw”; and six-graders Karly Coonan of Raynor Country Day School, “The Last Straw” and Pranav Vijayababu, Hauppauge Middle School, Hauppauge School District, “Save Our Seas.”

“Suffolk County, New York State, the country, and the world need scientists and engineers now and in the future. The students in this science fair are young, but they aren’t too young to have fun with investigative science and engineering processes,” said Scott Bronson, Brookhaven Lab’s manager for K–12 programs.

“Once again, the students who participated were exceptional. Their projects showed it. Congratulations to each of them. And, ‘Thank you,’ to every parent, teacher, mentor, and volunteer who helped them — and will continue to help them along the way.”

For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of BNL

Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Democrat Sarah Deonarine are asking for residents votes Nov. 5. Photos by David Luces

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), a longtime civic leader and six-term council member since 2007 is facing a challenge from Democratic Sarah Deonarine, a marine biologist out of Coram with years of working in state and local government.

In an October debate at the TBR News Media offices, candidates went back and forth over questions of development on the North Shore, clean energy initiatives and keeping young people on Long Island.

“What I’m hearing is that people want to stay in their homes — age in place.”

— Sarah Deonarine

Deonarine said she sees Brookhaven at “full carrying capacity” in terms of development and is calling for a study on capacity to see if the town is at “full build-out.” She added that another issue which leads to the Island’s brain drain is a lack of affordable or millennial housing, compared to states like Colorado.

“What I’m hearing is that people want to stay in their homes — age in place,” she said.

Other issues for her is the lien put on a property after a derelict house is removed, making redevelopment expensive. She asked that the list of zombie homes in town be made public, as well as refocus Brookhaven Code Enforcement Division which she called aggressive in “trying to make money for the town.”

Bonner instead cited the Route 25A corridor study, and which started in the first years of her first term, which she boasted has been picked up by the Town of Riverhead and continued by Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) in the Three Village area. The study led to “massive rezonings” which limited further build-out. She said all current large-scale developments were grandfathered in before the outcome of the study. 

One of those includes the senior living facility development going up along Route 25A in Mount Sinai, which came about after the Mount Sinai Civic sued the town to stop another “Ranches style” development. The Mount Sinai Meadows project was reconfigured from retail space into majority millennial-geared rental/part commercial.

“Mount Sinai Meadows is going to change the face of Mount Sinai,” Bonner said. “It’s also going to stimulate the [Mt. Sinai] shopping center that’s right next to it.”

She disagreed with Deonarine’s statement on code enforcement, saying the division was more focused on the well-being of people in their homes. She said Suffolk County police asked the town not to publicize the list of zombie homes.

The town has boasted of its clean energy initiatives, including solar farms and wind farms at Town Hall in Farmingdale. Bonner called the solar farm developments in Shoreham a way of reducing the impact of farms and grass products on the aquifer while growing green energy in the town. She mentioned the electric car charging stations at sites like Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. 

“We’re doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint.”

— Jane Bonner

“We’re doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint,” the incumbent said.

The Democratic challenger said she thinks it’s time Long Island as a whole moves away from being hesitant on new green energy initiatives, especially with complaints over aesthetics. 

“People are afraid of their views being blocked — it’s a time we need to move past that, and it’s time to think about the environment and move away from fossil fuels,” she said.

If elected, Deonarine said she would bring a different viewpoint to the board, six of whom are Republican with one lone Democrat. She also pushed her opponent on proposition 1, the referendum given the green light by voters last November, saying it had been poorly worded, giving town council members term limits while at the same time extending terms from two to four years. She said the Republican members of the board largely supported it, and though Cartright had at first supported it, she later pulled back her support.

“The current board makeup, and current Republican Party makeup, it is very biased,” she said. “With only one Democrat on the board, that’s not a representation of the Town of Brookhaven.”

Bonner said the board has been bipartisan in getting things done, with no lack of ability or willingness to cross party lines and help each other in daily duties. In terms of proposition 1, “we all supported to go to referendum for the four-year terms,” she said. “It was overwhelmingly supported by nearly 60 percent.”