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National Grid

Paul Rogers from ESRG speaks to the civic association while Sid Bail stands before the podium and Key Capture Energy’s Phil Denara listens. Photo courtesy Stephanie Bail

By Samantha Rutt

Wading River Civic Association convened on May 23 to discuss a significant new development — a proposed battery energy storage system facility, known as BESS, on LIPA-owned property in Shoreham. The meeting, held at Wading River Congregational Church, drew a considerable crowd interested in learning about the project’s specifics and its implications for the community.

After concluding the business portion of the meeting, addressing new membership, voting rules and general notices, the civic’s focus shifted to the proposal from the Albany-based company, Key Capture Energy. 

Key Capture Energy is an independent power producer of utility-scale battery storage system projects. “Currently, in New York State, KCE operates three battery energy storage facilities — including the largest operational facility,” said Phil Denara, director of development at KCE. 

The company’s proposal is not the first Long Island has seen, as other companies with similar objectives have visited neighboring civic organizations and presented their systems. Indeed, KCE has plans for facilities at Babylon and Cutchogue. 

The increase in proposed battery energy storage facilities coincides with the Climate Leadership Protection Act, signed into law in 2019, essentially mandating greenhouse gas emissions to 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels. It also mandates 100% of electricity used in New York state must come from clean energy sources by 2040 with 70% renewable energy by 2030.

Project genesis and site selection

The discussion began with an explanation of the project’s origins and site selection process. The project was initiated to meet statewide goals for energy storage as Long Island transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. With a local demand for approximately 5,000 megawatts of electricity, integrating storage systems with renewable energy such as offshore wind and solar is crucial.

“Here on Long Island we currently have a demand for electricity to the tune of 5,000 megawatts and so as we transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewables, we have to keep that number in mind,” Denara said.

As explained by Denara at the meeting, in 2021 Long Island Power Authority issued a competitive solicitation for bulk energy storage projects, seeking at least 175 MW of capacity. Developers bid on various sites, including those offered by LIPA, which were strategically located next to existing infrastructure to reduce the need for new development. This site was awarded in August 2022 and is now moving from preliminary design to execution.

Project scope and capacity

The BESS project at Shoreham is slated to have a capacity of 50 MW, enough to power tens of thousands of homes. 

While this represents only 1% of Long Island’s total power demand, it plays a critical role in the broader transition to renewable energy. Currently, there are only two full-scale BESS facilities on Long Island, both with a capacity of 5 MW each, located in East Hampton and Montauk. The East Hampton facility has been out of commission since a fire on May 31, 2023.

Site details and development stages

The Shoreham site is situated on approximately 2.3 acres of land near the former Long Island Lighting Company property. Development has involved boundary surveys, geotechnical studies and comprehensive environmental reviews.

For completion, the project must navigate three main development components: land-use acquisition and permitting, grid interconnection and commercial power delivery contracts. The site benefits from exemptions from the Town of Brookhaven’s zoning requirements, although the developers are adhering to these standards voluntarily. Local officials, including the Town Board and emergency services, have been engaged throughout the process to ensure transparency and community safety.

Technology and safety considerations

BESS will employ advanced lithium-ion battery technology. A significant point of discussion was the safety of these systems. Lithium-ion batteries are chosen for their high efficiency, with a round-trip efficiency of about 90%, essential for storing and dispatching renewable energy.

Paul Rogers of the Energy Safety Response Group — comprising retired firefighters, service people, engineers and first responders responsible for handling codes, standards and safety protocols — detailed the safety measures in place. These include multilayered safety listings and comprehensive monitoring systems to prevent overcharging and overheating. The system’s design ensures that in the unlikely event of a failure, the issue remains contained within an individual unit, preventing any propagation.

Community concerns and future technologies

Civic members raised questions about the long-term viability and environmental impact of lithium-ion batteries. Some suggested exploring alternative technologies such as sodium-ion batteries. While the current focus is on lithium-ion due to its proven efficiency and safety, the developers remained open to integrating future advancements.

The project is designed for a 20-year operational life, with plans for recycling and repurposing battery components at the end of their lifecycle. This contributes to a circular supply chain, reducing reliance on international resources and enhancing energy independence.

The Shoreham BESS facility is set to become a critical component of the local energy infrastructure, promising enhanced reliability and sustainability for the community.

The civic association plans to continue these discussions in future meetings, ensuring ongoing community engagement and transparency as the project progresses. The next civic meeting will be held on June 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wading River Congregational Church. 

Pixabay photo

By Brian Monahan

National Grid’s pending joint proposal before the state’s Public Service Commission could see monthly rates paid by the average residential customer increased by $28.52 for Long Island and $30.95 for New York City starting June 1 if approved. 

The lengthy process of proposing a rate increase, called a “rate case,” is organized akin to a court case, with administrative judges assigned to rule over the proceedings. The entire process, as well as the subsequent public feedback and negotiations with the state, can take over a year. The most recent joint proposal came after public comment on two separate proposals was heard for the New York City and Long Island region last year.

“National Grid is proud to play a vital role in achieving New York’s energy goals. The joint proposal submitted today includes critical improvements in infrastructure maintenance and upgrades that will enable us to continue providing reliable, affordable service while advancing the state’s energy priorities,” said Phil DeCicco, New York general counsel for National Grid April 9. “We are proud of the agreement we have reached with the Department of Public Service staff and other parties and look forward to receiving additional feedback from our stakeholders in the downstate region during the upcoming public review process.”

The current proposal has elicited varying reactions across the region, especially based on National Grid’s commitment to “transition to cleaner energy sources,” and investing in its existing gas mains to reduce emissions.

“It is always troubling to see rate increases but especially at a time when our families are having an issue putting food on their tables due to the faltering economy,” said state Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), a member of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee. “The fact that these increases are being pushed in an effort to comply with the rushed elimination of fuel choice in New York State is disturbing to me.”

He added, “I have repeatedly stated that these haphazard and ill-conceived efforts will cost New Yorkers trillions, and we are already seeing the impact of putting the cart before the horse.”

Rate hikes are typically approved, albeit with some modifications. 

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk staff and volunteers are joined by government leaders and National Grid officials in front of the new Suffolk County Farm Visitor Center and interactive walkway. Photo from Suffolk County Farm

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk (CCE Suffolk) held the unveiling of a new, interactive walkway at its 272-acre Suffolk County Farmand Educational Center in Yaphank as well as the announcement of a new visitor center. The walkway was funded by National Grid.

Designed with multiple, life-size elements designed for visitor engagement, the walkway features a series of stations that highlight CCE Suffolk’s wide range of program areas. Among the disciplines showcased are agriculture, marine science, gardening and horticulture, camping, life skills education, and family wellness.

The Suffolk County Farm is a working farm that offers hands-on, research-based learning within a year-round, educational environment. It hosts 100,000 visitors each year, 20,000 of whom are schoolchildren.

The farm is also home to unique educational programs for children ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, summer day camps, a nature-based preschool, and special events, among many other offerings. Its 1871 Haybarn is listed on the National Historic Registry.

According to a 2019 report by the state comptroller’s office, Suffolk County ranked fourth among the state’s 62 counties in agricultural sales. The county’s 560 farms generated $225.6 million in sales.

State Senator Dean Murray, State Assemblyman Joe DeStefano, and County Legislators James Mazzarella, Sarah Anker, Nick Caracappa, Sam Gonzalez, and Jason Richberg were among the elected officials participating in today’s event.

“Thanks to National Grid, the Suffolk County Farm now features a dynamic, new walkway providing an immersive experience that captures the essence of CCE’s multifaceted programs,” said Vanessa Lockel, Executive Director of CCE Suffolk. “The visitor center and walkway will together help the farm carry on its tradition of community learning that dates back more than a century.”

“We’re proud to partner with CCE Suffolk to create an interactive walkway that’s designed to educate and inspire visitors to the Suffolk County Farm,” said Kathy Wisnewski, Director of Customer and Community Engagement at National Grid. “Community learning is deeply aligned with National Grid’s values, and we’re delighted to contribute to an initiative that broadens public understanding of such critical subjects as sustainability, history, and science.”

“The new walkway is far more than an entry point into this remarkable farm,” said Sonia Spar, President of the CCE Suffolk Board of Directors. “It’s truly an educational journey in itself. Visitors will enjoy a holistic experience that enables them to appreciate the extraordinary breadth of CCE Suffolk’s offerings in a personal way.”

“While I regret not being able to attend today’s ceremony in person, I support the innovative initiatives undertaken by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk at the Suffolk County Farm,” commented Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “The interactive walkway emphasizes that the farm is not just a place to visit; it’s a learning hub that exemplifies the rich agricultural heritage and forward-thinking sustainability efforts of our county.”

“Visited by tens of thousands of people each year, the Suffolk County Farm is one of Suffolk’s true gems,” said County Legislator James Mazzarella. “National Grid deserves praise for underwriting a beautiful new walkway that stands as a testament to CCE Suffolk‘s ambitious program of community outreach and education.”

“The Suffolk County Farm is emblematic of the leadership role that this county plays in New York State’s agricultural sector,” said Rob Carpenter, Director of the Long Island Farm Bureau. “Its far-reaching educational agenda deepens Long Islanders’ understanding of the world of agriculture. We applaud CCE Suffolk and National Grid for the tremendous work they’ve done here.”

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Pixabay photo

Earlier this year, the Town of Brookhaven took a gamble, hedging that the market rate of natural gas would climb.

That hedge proved unsuccessful, and town residents have paid the price ever since.

Brookhaven launched its Community Choice Aggregation program in May, partnering with Manhattan-based Good Energy for a fixed rate of $0.695 per therm on natural gas.

The logic was simple. Given the volatility of the international energy economy — with costs fluctuating to the vicissitudes of geopolitical unrest and natural disaster — the town agreed to lock its consumers into a fixed rate, shielded from the variability of the market.

At the time of the negotiation, that price seemed reasonable. In January, the default supply rate from National Grid was $0.792 per therm — 14% higher than the Good Energy rate. As part of the bargain, all Brookhaven National Grid consumers were automatically opted into the $0.695 per therm supply rate.

Unfortunately, every month since the CCA took effect, National Grid has offered a cheaper rate than Good Energy. That includes the month of September, as the rate is now $0.297 per therm. 

Simply put, far too many Brookhaven residents are paying more than they should for their natural gas supply. And despite the urgency of the moment, the Town Board and Good Energy have acted with unusual calm.

We hear so often from Brookhaven officials about the need for fiscal responsibility. Where is the fiscal responsibility for ratepayers? Why hasn’t the town had a more aggressive public outreach and education campaign?

The town’s CCA webpage — brookhavencommunityenergy.com — still considers the program a means to “provide annual savings and rate stability for participating residential and commercial consumers by fixing the gas supply of the natural gas rate.”

This messaging is possibly misleading unsuspecting residents to remain opted in. Messages like these can do a disservice to the hardworking residents of this town, who should not have to bear such unnecessary costs.

The Town Board should confront its constituents, explaining the faults in this CCA program and encouraging consumers to opt out immediately.

A day may come when the National Grid rate exceeds $0.695 per therm. When that happens, we will give the Town Board its due credit and encourage all residents to opt in again.

But that day has not arrived.

With skyrocketing costs everywhere, elected officials must do everything possible to safeguard their constituents from further financial strain. Now is not the time to save face but to lead.

To every Brookhaven natural gas consumer, please opt out of the CCA until further notice. And please watch the rates.

Visit www.brookhavencommunityenergy.com and follow the directions at the top of the page to opt out.

Brookhaven Town Hall. File photo from the town’s website
By Samantha Rutt

National Grid’s supply rates have fallen below those offered by the Town of Brookhaven’s Community Choice Aggregation program for another month.

This week, National Grid released its September supply rates, which stand at $0.297 per therm — more than twice less than the current offering from the CCA at $0.695 per therm. Natural gas consumers were automatically opted into the CCA program earlier this year.

The Town of Brookhaven referred requests for comment to Manhattan-based Good Energy, administrator of its CCA program.

“While fixed energy rates may not offer immediate cost savings, they provide stability and protection in the long run,” Javier Barrios, managing partner at Good Energy, said in an exclusive interview. “Fluctuating utility rates can make it challenging to estimate your monthly energy costs, potentially leading to unexpected financial burdens.”

During last month’s Town Board meeting, however, Barrios and another representative from Good Energy met resistance over the CCA’s cost structure and the firm’s public outreach efforts. [See story, “Natural gas prices still higher under Brookhaven CCA,” Aug. 25, TBR News Media].

Given the elevated price for those remaining opted into the CCA, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) has encouraged ratepayers to opt out.

Brookhaven introduced the CCA program to deliver cheaper gas and rate stability for residents and businesses. However, with National Grid rates continuing to plummet, the CCA has produced the opposite effect, according to Kornreich.

In an interview, he cast doubt upon Good Energy’s intentions, saying, “Obviously, this company is focused only on making a profit for themselves.”

Barrios countered these claims, indicating the decision to remain opted in is a matter of personal preference guided by convenience and energy usage, among other factors.

“The decision between fixed and fluctuating energy rates ultimately depends on your personal circumstances and preferences,” Barrios said, “Assessing your energy consumption patterns, financial goals and risk tolerance will help a consumer make a more informed decision.”

Under the contract, consumers can opt in or out at any time, free of charge. Kornreich kept open the possibility that there may soon be a time when opting in is advantageous for ratepayers.

“There may very well come a time when the National Grid price goes higher than CCA,” the town councilmember said. “At that point, it’ll make sense to opt into the CCA and pay that lower price.”

But, Kornreich added, “The CCA price is obviously much higher now, and I think it will remain higher for the foreseeable future. I think it’s important for people to opt out as we enter into the heating season.”

As of  Wednesday, Sept. 6, the town’s energy website — brookhavencommunityenergy.com — indicates the program is “designed to provide annual savings and rate stability for participating residential and commercial consumers by fixing the gas supply of the natural gas rate.”

Despite this messaging, Kornreich continued to urge community members to familiarize themselves with the program’s details and opt out.

“Our goal in creating CCA was to save money for residents, but the only way that works is if residents are aware of it,” Kornreich continued.

Barrios supported Kornreich’s statement: “The program is meant to provide a choice between a fluctuating utility rate and a fixed-price CCA option that is better than what ratepayers experienced with the utility in the previous 12 months. That is one of the reasons that it is called Community [Choice] Aggregation.”

Kornreich clashes with Good Energy reps during Town Board meeting

Brookhaven Town Hall. File photo from the town’s website
By Samantha Rutt

Members of the Manhattan-based energy firm Good Energy LLC, the Town of Brookhaven’s Community Choice Aggregation administrator, were recently met with questions and criticism from within the Town Board.

The CCA program was designed to help Brookhaven consumers save money on energy by pooling the bulk buying power of Brookhaven residents and businesses.

The CCA’s fixed rate, however, is $0.695 per therm, more than double the August rate offered by National Grid, which is $0.339 per therm.

During a TOB meeting Thursday, Aug. 17, Good Energy’s managing partner Javier Barrios and senior business development manager Edward Carey described the program as a “state initiative that allows municipalities to be empowered.” 

The program’s primary aim, Barrios said, is to provide residents with greater control over their energy sources and present a more cost-effective alternative to default utility rates from National Grid, which fluctuate monthly. 

Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) scrutinized these appeals, suggesting a lack of public outreach regarding the CCA.

“I have never met anybody who understood what it meant that we were starting a CCA,” Kornreich told Barrios.

The town handled preliminary outreach and education efforts before the program’s launch, according to Barrios, who added that there was a mandatory subsidy outreach and education initiative undertaken to ensure a clear understanding of the CCA program.

“I’ll just say that from where I’m sitting, it was not effective at all,” Kornreich responded. “I think that there’s been a lot of confusion.”

After the initial enrollment of all residents who use natual gas, the program makes residents responsible for opting in or out of the program. For Kornreich, residents must understand how the program works compared to the default energy supply.

“I think that to the extent that people understand it, [the residents] understand that, at the moment, they are overpaying for natural gas,” he added.

Barrios said the weather significantly affects the domestic natural gas market. In the temperate climate of the shoulder months, when the demand for natural gas is lower, Brookhaven residents should unenroll from the CCA’s program, paying only for their independent household’s usage at the market rate.

Kornreich also centered around resident complaints regarding issues with the program’s opt-out feature. Complaints were consistent with long delays, confusion with billing and the feature “simply not working,” he stated during the discourse.

“I would just like to urge [Good Energy] here in this public setting to honor those requests as quickly as possible,” Kornreich continued.

Since the rollout of the CCA in May, all Brookhaven residents have been automatically enrolled in this program. It still remains up to their discretion whether to opt in or out. 

“I do support this initiative because I think that having this choice for consumers is going to, at some point, give us the ability to save money,” Kornreich concluded. “But our residents have to be educated, and we’re all trying to figure out how to do a better job.”

Kornreich: 90% of customers ‘paying well more than double’ the rate for natural gas

Cartoon by Kyle Horne: @kylehorneart • kylehorneart.com

The Town of Brookhaven’s Community Choice Aggregation program has drawn opposition within the Town Board.

Brookhaven launched the CCA program in May, pitching the initiative as a way to stabilize energy rates on natural gas and help residents save money. 

Through a two-year partnership with Manhattan-based CCA administrator Good Energy, all natural gas customers were automatically opted into the CCA, receiving natural gas at the fixed rate of $0.695 per therm.  

The partnership allows residents to opt-out free of charge at any time, choosing the default energy supply from National Grid, which fluctuates monthly. This month, National Grid is offering natural gas at $0.278 per them, according to its website.

Now the promise of cheaper gas has met with scrutiny from Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), who is urging customers to opt out of the program.

“The [National Grid] price has been going down every single month and, of course, the CCA rate continues to hold steady for two years,” Kornreich told TBR News Media. “You’re paying well more than double [the rate] at this point if you’re still opted in.”

National Grid’s “recent supply rates” have been $0.32 per therm or less since the CCA’s launch in May, according to a chart on the town’s website. Meanwhile, 90% of Brookhaven’s natural gas customers remain opted in, according to Doug Donaldson, media representative for Good Energy.

Despite the higher costs, Donaldson maintained that CCA offers a discount when assessed over a 12-month interval.

“The customer would have to study each month’s rate and know the billing cycle, and then change according to the rates to be able to get the lowest rates,” he said in a phone interview.

“But if they stick within the CCA program, they’ll know that over a 12-month period they’ll get a historically lower rate.”

The town’s CCA landing page — brookhavencommunityenergy.com — enables residents to opt in or out of the program. The page mentions “competitive pricing” as one of the program’s goals. 

“Brookhaven Community Energy aims to produce savings for customers compared to basic utility rates,” the webpage reads.

Kornreich indicates that his proposed rate-switching method — opting into the cheapest energy supplier for a given month — better accords with the program’s stated aims.

“I think the way to really create savings is to opt out of [the CCA] for now and to opt in when it makes sense to do so,” he said.

Donaldson noted that natural gas rates tend to be lower in the summer and higher in the winter. For this reason, he suggested there is a certain degree of accountability on ratepayers to monitor their energy bills and choose accordingly.

“The program offers a very easy way through the website to opt in or out,” he said. “It offers that flexibility, but it is on the customer to keep track of the rates.”

Asked whether he would advise customers to opt out during these summer months, during which the National Grid price is lower, Donaldson referred to the CCA as a “no worry” option for ratepayers.

“I sort of think it’s like a no-worry situation if you stay in it,” the Good Energy media representative said. “When the winter months come, you don’t have to worry whether you’ve switched over or about getting a super-large energy bill.”

“I think the convenience of it is worth the price difference, easily,” he added.

Given the gradual changes in National Grid’s supply rates month to month, Kornreich said customers would likely be switching just a few times a year.

“This is not something that you need to be opting in and out of every month,” the councilmember said. The price “doesn’t change that fast.”

While the National Grid rate remains lower than that of Good Energy, Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville) concurred with Kornreich’s assessment of the situation.

“We encourage residents to check the price and opt in and out to their maximum benefit … to get the best rates that they can,” he said. “That’s the beauty of the program, that you can opt in and out. And I’m working with Jonathan to make sure that we get that message out.”

Kornreich stressed the matter of choice in consuming utility power, maintaining that residents must stay educated on the cost differences between National Grid and Good Energy and choose the lower rate.

“Ninety percent of people are currently paying more than they need to,” he said. “The question is: Do they not care and maybe have confidence that over the long run [CCA] will work for them? Or do they simply not know?”

He concluded, “I don’t know what that mix is, but we have to make sure that our consumers and residents are informed.”

Suffolk County Community College’s new, 26,000 square foot, two-story, state-of-the-art Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) building opened on June 1 with a celebratory ribbon cutting featuring area high school students, elected officials, business leaders, scientific and robotics presentations, and the unveiling of The National Grid Center for Workforce and Energy Innovation. The building sits on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood. The high school students from Central Islip, Brentwood and Bay Shore participated in STEM related activities as well as informative panels about STEM careers.

“This beautiful new building will help Suffolk County Community College prepare a new generation of graduates for the demands of the STEM economy,” College President Dr. Edward Bonahue, said.  “We are grateful for the generosity of our County and State sponsors and National Grid for their significant support of our mission to prepare students for service in our regional energy workforce.  National Grid’s Project C program supports our mission and vision for Suffolk’s workforce future,” he said.

“This new state of the art building is a win-win for county residents looking to further their education in the STEM field at Suffolk County Community College,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “I would like to extend my thanks to College President Dr. Edward Bonahue for always doing what’s best for his students and to National Grid and New York State for partnering with us on this initiative. It is always a pleasure to put forth a collaborative effort in providing clean and energy efficient facilities that benefit our residents.”

“It is essential as leaders in the public and private sector, that we work together to create educational and workforce opportunities that keep our highly educated students on Long Island. We look forward to having this incredible STEM center here in Brentwood in the Town of Islip, home to one of Suffolk County Community College’s premier campuses,” said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter.

Suffolk County Community College Board of Trustee’s Chairman E. Christopher Murray said, “The new STEM building is a symbol of our commitment to excellence in STEM education. We are excited to see what our students will accomplish in this state-of-the-art facility.”

“As I leave the college’s Board of Trustees following 12 years of past service, I am delighted that one of my last acts is participating in today’s ribbon cutting, an event that looks to a sustainable future for the students of Suffolk County Community College and, indeed, a sustainable future for all of Long Island’s citizens,” said Suffolk County Community College Board of Trustees Vice Chair Jim Morgo.

“I am excited to join with SCCC in celebrating the opening of the new, net-zero energy, STEM building, funded by New York State and Suffolk County.  This state-of-the-art facility will provide students with cutting-edge resources to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math.  It showcases renewable energy and offers training in renewable energy systems, while accommodating over 1,600 students in various STEM disciplines.  It represents our commitment to innovation, workforce development, and a sustainable future,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele who was instrumental in garnering state funding for the building with now retired New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle.

“I am proud to have helped secure the state funding for this building, which will provide Suffolk County Community College students with the resources they need to succeed in the 21st century economy,” former New York State Senator and Chair of the State Senate Select Committee on Higher Education Kenneth P. LaValle said. “This building will help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, and it will ensure that Suffolk County remains a leader in innovation and economic development.”

The $21.3 million building — funded by New York State and Suffolk County — provides students with a new facility to learn chemistry, physics, engineering, math and other workforce initiatives, provides a showcase for the merits of renewable energy, and a facility where the installation, repair and maintenance of renewable energy systems can be taught as well as house laboratories and classrooms. The building will also be used for renewable energy training and other STEM related courses and certificate programs.

“National Grid is proud to partner with Suffolk Community College on this beautiful building and we are honored it has our name on it,” said Melanie Littlejohn, Vice President for New York Customer and Community Management at National Grid. We are committed to higher education and creating the clean energy workforce of the future. We are excited to announce the ‘National Grid Scholarship for Excellence in Renewable Energy Workforce Development,’ and we believe this will propel students to help develop a clean, sustainable, and equitable energy future.”

The National Grid Center for Workforce and Energy Education is supported by a generous $250,000 gift from National Grid that includes a National Grid Workforce and Energy Innovation Endowed Scholarship, part of a series of donations from National Grid including a campus beautification mural near the new STEM building, and solar trees – solar powered recharging stations with tables and seating – on the college’s Ammerman and Grant campuses. Solar Trees provide students and faculty with opportunities to better understand energy innovation on our campuses and throughout our community, said Dr. Sylvia A. Diaz, executive director of the Suffolk Community College Foundation.

The net zero energy building – the energy required to illuminate, heat, cool and ventilate the building will be equal to or less than the energy produced from renewable sources – will potentially be home to more than 1,600 STEM students taking courses in subjects including Biology; Computer Science: Information Technology; Cybersecurity; Environmental Science; Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning/Refrigeration and Marine Biology among others.

The completely electric building’s high-tech green roof has a 468 solar panel array that can generate 208 kW of power and will generate as much power as it consumes over the course of a year – –  pulling power from the grid on high-energy consumption days and feeding power back to the grid on others. The building’s geothermal exchange system will reduce the energy needed to both heat and cool the building.

The building has new classrooms, meeting rooms and lab study space and includes:

– The National Grid Center for Workforce and Energy Education – an open symposium center with seating for 300 and computer and network accessibility.

– Biology lab and support lab

– Cybersecurity Lab

–  Multi-use lab for solar technology and other programs

– Computer Lab

– Two Multi-use Classroom/Labs

–  Conference Room

New proposed EPA regulations may affect the Port Jefferson Power Station, pictured above. File photo by Lee Lutz
By Aidan Johnson

The Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed regulations requiring most power plants fired by fossil fuels to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent between 2035 and 2040, or shut down.

This climate rule would likely affect the Port Jefferson and Northport power stations, since they are both fossil-burning plants.

Under consideration for the new standards are carbon capture and storage, or CCS, a method of capturing and storing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, though this is still not widely practiced.

“CCS has not reached a widespread commercialization stage,” Gang He, an assistant professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University, said in an email. “According to the Global Status of CCS 2022 report by Global CCS Institute, there are only 30 operational projects with a total capture capacity of 42.56 million metric tons — about 0.1% of the total carbon emission in 2022.”

As the global climate crisis continues, the World Meteorological Organization announced May 17 that world temperatures are “now more likely than not” to cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, recommending policymakers act promptly to reduce carbon emissions and help mitigate the mounting concerns.

Another proposal being explored is hydrogen, a low-emission fuel source which produces power through a process called electrolysis that could move Long Island’s toward a greener future, according to former Port Jeff Village trustee Bruce Miller. 

Miller said hydrogen could play a major role in reshaping Long Island’s economic and energy futures as some companies have already started acquiring and selling hydrogen. 

“It is hoped [hydrogen] will be an important part of our economy in the near future, and there’s a lot of money being allocated for that,” Miller told TBR News Media in an interview. “I believe that National Grid has the capacity to do this in Port Jefferson.”

National Grid did not respond to a request for comment.

Miller said local plant operators would probably need to modernize the existing power stations to accommodate hydrogen in the future.

Also factoring into this hydrogen equation would be energy demand. While a lot of energy is expected to be received from the Atlantic, where offshore wind turbines are currently being developed, these represent intermittent energy sources, Miller indicated.

Given Port Jeff Harbor’s deepwater port, Miller suggested that hydrogen could be feasibly captured, pumped and stored along existing maritime commercial routes and transported via cargo ships. 

While decisions over local power stations remain ongoing, National Grid needs to determine whether it would be worth it to use hydrogen, or whether the electricity generated in the Atlantic would be enough. The municipalities would also need to be on board with repowering the plants.

“We call ourselves a welcoming community,” Miller said. “If that’s the direction that National Grid would want to go in, the village [should] support that.” 

While there is a market to extract and sell hydrogen, it needs to be at an affordable price. Although the amount that hydrogen will play in creating a sustainable future is unknown, questions over local plants remain ongoing with the subsequent detrimental effects on the Port Jefferson and Northport tax bases.

Editor’s note: See also letter, “The reality of closing local generating plants. 

New proposed EPA regulations may affect the Northport Power Station, pictured above. File photo
By Aidan Johnson

The Biden administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new proposed regulations on May 11 that would require most power plants fired by fossil fuels to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent between 2035 and 2040. Plants that do not meet these requirements may have to close down entirely, according to the new plan.

Starting in 2030, the EPA guidelines would generally require more CO2 emissions controls for power plants that operate more frequently, phasing increasingly stringent CO2 requirements over time, an EPA statement said.

If passed, the new requirements would likely impact the Port Jefferson and Northport power stations, both fired by natural gas.

The EPA projects the carbon reductions under the new guidelines would help avoid over 600 million metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere from 2028 to 2042, “along with tens of thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and fine particulate matter,” the statement reads.

This new proposal comes over four years after the Long Island Power Authority, which buys all of the Port Jefferson Power Station’s power, settled its tax lawsuit with the Town of Brookhaven and the Village of Port Jefferson. 

“The terms of settlement shelter us from having to pay back taxes (taxes collected during the 6-year-long court battle) while also providing a glide path moving forward over the next 8 years, during which the 50% reduction of tax revenue can be absorbed,” Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said in a 2019 statement.

The new EPA standards represent a step toward alleviating the climate crisis, according to the Biden administration. Their impact, however, will likely be felt locally given that a sizable portion of PJV’s budget is subsidized by the plant. This applies to other local institutions, such as the Port Jefferson Fire Department and school district.

Bruce Miller, former Port Jefferson Village trustee, said in an interview that it is technologically feasible to remove carbon dioxide and other polluting gasses from the smoke stacks. He also maintains that the possibility of using hydrogen, a clean fuel source, remains an option. 

“The thing that I’m talking to National Grid [the owner of the plant] about is hydrogen,” Miller said. “Will they be thinking in terms of possibly a combined cycle plant in Port Jefferson? That would be our hope.”

These talks are still preliminary as the proposed regulations are still subject to a public comment period. “Whether National Grid and LIPA would want to make the investment to put some hydrogen-powered combined cycle plants — redo the Port Jefferson plant — is a huge question mark,” Miller indicated. “I don’t have an answer for that or even a projection.”

The former trustee added that the impact to local budgets could be “substantial,” noting, “It’s going to be a major adjustment if that plant goes offline.”

While the long-term plans for the plant remain unknown, Garant maintained that the village’s finances would not be hit all at once if the plant were to shutter.

“The community wouldn’t be on a cliff,” she said in a phone interview. “The norm is like another 10-year glide path to give you a chance to settle into another loss of revenue.”

While the potential loss of public revenue remains a critical policy concern for local officials, the impact that climate change has had on the village cannot be ignored either. The past few years have brought both droughts and flooding, likely the consequence of intensifying storms and rising tides due to climate change.

“Projections for sea-level rise over the coming decades are nothing short of staggering,” said trustee Rebecca Kassay, Port Jeff’s sustainability commissioner, in a statement. “If the global community does not work together — from individuals to villages to states to nations and every agency in between — and climate change is not slowed from its current projections, [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] confidently forecasts that Port Jefferson Harbor will engulf Port Jefferson Village’s downtown Main Street within a century’s time.”

The EPA will host virtual trainings on June 6 and 7 to provide information about the proposed regulations.