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Renewable Energy

With the help of Sunrise Wind, New York plans to operate with 70% renewable energy by 2030. Photo courtesy Shutterstock

By Serena Carpino

Sunrise Wind, an offshore wind project dedicated to powering thousands of Long Island homes through the use of clean energy, received federal approval on March 26. Specifically, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has granted a Record of Decision. This is an important milestone in the development of offshore wind projects across New York. 

The project, which is set to begin operating in 2026, is located about 30 miles east of Montauk and will bring an estimated 800 jobs to Long Island. In addition to the $700 million in investment the project will bring to Suffolk County, it will also power around 600,000 homes with clean energy. 

Aside from receiving federal approval, Ørsted and Eversource, the two companies that have partnered to create Sunrise Wind, also announced that they took the final investment decision on the project, ensuring their commitment. 

By 2030, New York plans to operate with 70% renewable energy, and Sunrise Wind will play a key role in achieving this goal. Project managers recently negotiated an offshore wind renewable energy certificate agreement with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to provide clean energy to the state for 25 years through an offshore wind farm with a maximum capacity of 924MW. 

​​“These milestones achieved by Ørsted and Eversource on the heels of South Fork Wind entering full operation demonstrate New York’s leadership in building the U.S. offshore wind industry with Sunrise Wind and future projects on their way to generating clean wind energy to power the grid,” said Doreen Harris, president and CEO at NYSERDA. 

The project will bring many financial benefits to New York. According to Harris, “As the onshore supply chain work moves forward, we will continue to see the economic investments in communities from the Capital Region to Long Island come to fruition in the form of good paying jobs and community benefits that are a critical part of our clean energy transition.”

Harris is not the only official who highlighted the economic benefits that wind projects bring to New York. David Hardy, group EVP and CEO at Ørsted North America, explained that the South Fork Wind project has already provided great benefits to the state economy through its production of renewable energy. The efforts of Sunrise Wind will continue and build upon this project. 

Furthermore, Hardy said, “With the federal Record of Decision in hand and our final investment decision having been made, we can continue to create hundreds of local union jobs and set up a vibrant supply chain. We thank the Biden administration, our state partners and the congressional delegation for their continued leadership to advance this important project.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also weighed in: “Today’s announcement that Sunrise Wind has flown through another critical milestone, combined with the recent announcement that South Fork Wind is officially online, shows that the sky is the limit for offshore wind.”

In addition, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY20) said, “I have always believed in the potential for New York to play a leading role in our nation’s offshore wind and clean energy development, and I have pushed hard at the federal level to drive investments that grow out this industry.” 

Tonko added, “Today’s milestone announcement will help build on our region’s leadership in this field while supporting good paying jobs and securing our clean energy future.” He also remarked, “I’m grateful to Ørsted and Eversource for their partnership and investment in our region, and I look forward to seeing the impact of these projects for our state, our economy and our environment.”

 

New York State Sen. Mario Mattera speaks out against the state’s ban on gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating during a rally in Hauppauge Wednesday, Oct. 18. Photo by Raymond Janis

New York State’s ban on natural gas is coming under fire.

Dozens of public officials, union workers and policy advocates rallied outside the Perry B. Duryea Jr. State Office Building in Hauppauge Wednesday morning, Oct. 18, protesting the state’s recent ban on natural gas, slated to take effect on Dec. 31, 2025.

News Flash:

Generated by ChatGPT, edited by our staff

  • Protest against New York State’s natural gas ban: Public officials, union workers and policy advocates rally against New York State’s ban on natural gas, expressing concerns about its impact on jobs, energy prices and the economy.
  • Legal challenge to the ban: Plaintiffs in the Mulhern Gas Co. v. Rodriguez lawsuit argue that the ban violates federal law, specifically the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
  • Calls for realistic energy approaches: Opponents of the natural gas ban advocate for a balanced and diversified energy portfolio, highlighting the challenges of transitioning to an all-electric system.

During the rally, attendees chanted, “We need a plan, not a ban.”

This natural gas provision was included in this year’s fiscal year budget, passed by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in May.

The law bans gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating, encouraging using climate-friendly appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves in new residential buildings. It also requires all-electric heating and cooking in new buildings shorter than seven stories by 2026 and for taller buildings by 2029.

New York State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), ranking member on the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, offered several objections to the natural gas ban, fearing the measure would trigger layoffs and hiring freezes, spike energy prices and exacerbate the region’s unaffordability crisis and overtaxed electrical grid.

“We know that this is going to hurt not just our homeowners but our economy,” Mattera said. “We are here today to say stop with this unrealistic ban and come together to create a realistic plan.”

Those gathered Wednesday strongly supported the plaintiffs in Mulhern Gas Co. v. Rodriguez, who seek to invalidate the ban on the legal grounds that the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act preempts the state law.

“New York State’s law violates the United States Constitution,” said Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer (D), who is also affiliated with the Plumbing Contractors Association of Long Island, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This law that was passed and signed is unconstitutional. So that means it’s an opportunity to go back to the drawing board.”

New York State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Smithtown) endorsed a more diversified energy portfolio for Long Island to meet the demands of today’s modern economy. While he expressed support for promoting alternative energy sources, he suggested these alternatives are still not yet economically viable to stand alone.

“Consumers are not ready for what the radical environmentalists have planned for us,” the assemblyman said. “People want to turn on the electricity or turn on that gas and cook a nice meal for their families. They can’t do it all-electric.”

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) said Long Island’s electrical grid cannot handle an electric-only transition. He noted the potential dangers of an electric-only energy economy, pointing to frequent outages due to downed trees and storms. “If we don’t have an alternate means of powering our homes, people are going to get hurt,” he warned.

Union leaders from across industries spoke out in opposition to the natural gas ban. Richard Brooks, business manager for Plumbers Local 200, referred to natural gas as “an essential transitional fuel that will help our nation as we move to greener energy sources.”

“New York’s natural gas ban will unnecessarily hurt New York workers by removing our members’ jobs at a time when we are already leading the nation in the expansion of alternative energy for New York residents,” he added.

To view a recording of the entire rally, visit www.facebook.com/senatormariomattera.

Pixabay photo

Correction: Good Energy is New York-based

First, thank you for the in-depth March 9 article about Community Choice Aggregation in Long Island. It is a well-written article that shares much important information about CCA programs. 

Long Island residents and businesses can benefit from such programs for years, so the more information, the better. Such CCA programs will enable Long Islanders to secure stable, low energy rates and also feature renewable energy options. That is, indeed, important news for Long Islanders.

As a media contact for Good Energy, I would like to add a small — but important — correction and a clarification to that article. 

Good Energy is mentioned as being a London-based company. It’s an understandable error because there is a United Kingdom-based company with the same name as ours. However, Good Energy LLC is based in Manhattan, with employees on Long Island and has been helping New York and other states create CCA programs for more than 20 years. 

 For our company, it’s important that residents of the Town of Brookhaven and the rest of Long Island know we are a New York-based business working for New Yorkers. We look forward to serving Brookhaven as the energy consultant for their CCA program. Part of that service is providing Brookhaven with new, exciting renewable energy options. 

 I would also request that your publication clarifies the scope of Good Energy’s CCA program: The Town of Brookhaven’s Community Choice Aggregation Program is for gas, electricity and renewable energy. 

In fact, Good Energy is currently working with Brookhaven officials to develop such renewable energy projects. More news about that will be coming soon.

Doug Donaldson

Media Representative

Good Energy LLC

New York

Fund the state’s new campaign finance program

In a representative democracy, money should not be the determining factor in whether a person can run for public office. When working-class people run and serve in public office, our government works better for working families. Yet too often, the process is dictated by wealthy donors and special interest groups, making it difficult for the average person to run for office and win. The New York State Public Campaign Finance Program would help to change that.

This new state program would eliminate barriers and level the playing field for good, qualified people to run for public office. Under the new system, individual contributions of between $5 and $250 would be eligible for public matching funds, enabling candidates — incumbents and challengers — to spend their time fundraising among more of the people they seek to represent, as opposed to wealthy megadonors. This makes it easier for ordinary people without access to wealth to run for office, with the support of our communities.

Instead of officeholders who are beholden to corporate donations, special interests and megadonors, they would be listening to constituents who built their campaign, one small donation at a time. Furthermore, these small donors would be engaged in the process to a greater degree, as they have a personal connection with the candidate who represents them and the community. This is what a government of, by and for the people is all about.

Unfortunately, no one will be able to make use of public campaign finance if there is no funding allocated to the program. Our legislators must take bold action and fully fund the Public Campaign Finance Program this year, so that candidates can begin using it in the 2024 election cycle, as the law intended. This funding must be a part of our fiscal year 2024 budget that is currently being negotiated in Albany.

We in Suffolk County know all too well that special interests dominate the process. Special interests who hold power with our Republican and Conservative county legislators that killed Suffolk County’s public campaign finance program before it began. We cannot let this happen again at the state level. I urge you to let your state legislators know that you support New York’s Public Campaign Finance Program, and that you want your government to represent you, not the special interest groups. That is the leadership and democracy we deserve.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Friendly, generous people

I would like to share how my wife and I have twice been the recipients of little acts of kindness.

The first occurred when we were dining in a Port Jefferson restaurant with another couple. The man, John, was telling us that he had fought in Europe in World War II. A few minutes later, our waitress informed us that the people in the next booth had paid for John’s meal. A thank-you for his service. We, of course, went to their booth and thanked them. 

More recently my wife and I had finished lunch at Outback Steakhouse in East Setauket, and the check arrived. The total appeared to be wrong, and I asked our waitress about it. She explained that the couple at the next table had some money left on their gift card and requested that it be applied to our bill. Unfortunately, they had left before we learned this, and we could not thank them. Whoever you are, if you read this: A profound thank-you for your generosity. I will pay it forward.

Steven Perry

Rocky Point

On the road again

March 12 was the 101st anniversary of East Northport resident Jack Kerouac’s birth.

It made me reread one of his best writings, “On the Road.” His works remind me of the more adventurous spirit of youth.

Sadly, as we get older, with more responsibilities and less free time, there are fewer journeys to take, but the ideals of Kerouac continue to live in all of us.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

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Pixabay photo

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 brookhavencommunityenergy.com. 

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.

Incumbent state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), left, and Democratic Party challenger Skyler Johnson, right, during a Meet the Candidates forum at Comsewogue Public Library on Tuesday, Sept. 20. File photos by Raymond Janis

The Republican and Democratic Party nominees for New York’s 1st State Senate District took to the debate stage on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Hampton Bays Senior Center.

Hosted by the Hampton Bays Civic Association, incumbent state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Democratic challenger Skyler Johnson, a Mount Sinai native, tackled various pressing issues in Albany. Questions were submitted by members of the civic, as well as some in the audience.

Abortion

Palumbo described himself as a libertarian concerning abortion law but raised objections to the practice of late-term abortions. “Women have a right to choose and should have a right to choose,” he said. “My only objection is to late-term abortion.” 

On the other hand, Johnson referred to himself as pro-choice and said he supported a woman’s right to choose. He accused Palumbo of not supporting exceptions for the life of a mother. He also called objections to late-term abortions “a myth.”

“If someone is getting an abortion past six months, it is because their life is in danger,” he said. “Late-term abortions aren’t actually a thing. They are a thing that happens when someone’s life is in danger. There is no data, no statistics to indicate that people are getting abortions because they are changing their minds past the sixth month of pregnancy.”

Renewable energy

Johnson said that he would not like to see the expansion of nuclear power on Long Island. For him, the risks imposed by nuclear power plants are not worth the rewards. However, he does foresee ways to promote alternative forms of green energy.

“I do think New York has a great opportunity to invest in green energy, to invest in better transportation,” he said. “That gets more cars off the road, that keeps our air clean, and that lowers the burden on our critical infrastructure.”

Palumbo offered his support behind renewable energy, and said the transition to these novel energy sources should be done “smartly and reliably.”

“The technology is getting there, and we’re pushing,” the state senator said. He added that continued funding for environmental initiatives will be critical to Long Island’s overall health. “We’re a very different animal on Long Island, and the environment is critical. All of the renewables are certainly a part of that whole package.”

Guns in schools

Palumbo said schools should consider having school resource officers, or trained and armed police officers designated to secure schools. 

“The people who should be handling guns are not teachers, but people who are trained,” Palumbo said. “Guns in schools should be with school resource officers.”

Johnson agreed that teachers should not be armed, referring to this as a “commonsense policy.” 

“I want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to improve gun safety in New York because there’s a lot that we can mostly all agree on,” Johnson said.

This debate marks the first of several encounters between the two candidates in the coming weeks. Voters will make their picks on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Early voting begins later this month.

Paule Pachter stands on the roof of the Harry Chapin Food Bank in front of a community solar array that will energize households facing hardships.

Long Island Cares — one of Long Island’s well-known charitable institutions — is completing the installation of solar panels on the 35,000 square-foot roof of its headquarters at Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge.

The $414,000 project is expected to generate 350,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually and 100 percent of it will be directed off-site to serve the electrical needs of households experiencing hardship and food insecurity. Long Island Cares is paying for system out of its reserves and available funds in its budget. 

“This solar project represents a direct extension of the humanitarian work of Long Island Cares,” said Paule Pachter, the organization’s CEO. “Part of Long Island Cares’ energy focuses on providing emergency food relief to hungry and food insecure Long Islanders through the Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank. But we also engage in direct service programs that address the humanitarian human needs of veterans, seniors, immigrants and others struggling with economic and social challenges.” 

The project is one of the first initiatives that are expected to help the industrial park meet by 2040 New York State’s ambitious goal of converting to 100 percent renewable energy. 

The power pass along is facilitated through an energy management practice called “community solar,” whereby electricity generated by a solar power installation is shared by multiple households, companies or institutions. It’s an initiative of the Hauppauge Industrial Association, a prominent Long Island business group, and its solar task force, which was launched last year.

Co-chairs Scott Maskin, CEO of SUNation Solar Systems, one of Long Island’s largest installers of solar panels and equipment, and Jack Kulka, president and founder of Kulka LLC, a major development and construction firm, are behind the initiative. 

“By taking the entire energy output of our solar installation and sending it off-site to provide discounted power to homes occupied by our lower-income neighbors, these households will have new found income to address some of their immediate needs,” Maskin said. “As such, it has a unique opportunity to bring forward both technology and value in a substantial way. From an energy perspective, the park can act as a responsible, shining example for all of Long Island.” 

Long Island Innovation Park, formerly known as the Hauppauge Industrial Park, is the second largest industrial center in the United States after California’s Silicon Valley, and the largest in the Northeast corridor. The park is recognized as a major driver of the region’s economy and is a focus of the regional development plan of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). 

“Through the successful embrace of this program,” Maskin added, “our park can distinguish itself as Long Island’s single largest energy producer, delivering revenue to its building owners while helping achieve New York State’s renewable energy goals. It’s a win-win all around.” 

The Long Island Cares project is expecting to be up and running in October, but Pachter said that the project has recently encountered several obstacles.

“When PSEG inspected our site, they said that the transformer needs to be changed and wiring upgraded to handle the energy,” he said. 

Maskin said in a telephone interview that the issues are relatively common and protection equipment upgrades are something that will need be addressed as the industrial park  expands its renewable projects. The transformer, he noted, will be covered by a maintenance agreement it has for this specific project.  The additional $11,000 wiring cost, Pachter said, will be the responsibility of L.I. Cares.

“We are building a power plant on the rooftop,” Maskin said. “If you think of the complexity of it all, delays are to be expected. We’re still pushing to have the system up and running in October.”

Pachter said that the construction phase has been underway for the last few months. 

PSEGLI representative Elizabeth Flagler said that Community Distributed Generation makes renewable energy, particularly solar, more accessible to renters and apartment dwellers. The array, she said, is connected to the grid and managed by a host who serves as a liaison with PSEGLI. The pass through is accomplished through accounting, rather than through wiring a system to beneficiaries. 

The project is the first community solar project in the industrial complex.

A ship Orsted plans to use to transport the wind turbines. Photo from SKDKnickerbocker

The wind was whipping along the shores of Port Jefferson Harbor April 3, ironically as local and state officials, along with representatives from energy corporations, advocated in support of a proposal to build an offshore wind “hub” in Port Jefferson to use wind for renewable energy. 

Danish energy company Ørsted, the largest energy company of its home country, teamed up with Eversource, a Massachusetts-based energy company, in submitting a joint bid to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Their project, a wind farm called Sunrise Wind, would be located over 30 miles east of Montauk Point, but using Port Jeff as its base of operations. 

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) at a press conference hosted in Port Jeff. Photo by David Luces

Fred Zalcman, head of government affairs for Ørsted, said once the wind farm is operational the hub in Port Jeff would create up to 100 permanent full-time jobs as well as temporary construction jobs while the hub and its facilities are being built. 

“When completed in full scope [the project] will provide up to 500,000 households with clean and renewable electricity,” Zalcman said. “All without any visual impacts to Long Island beach goers and residents.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) praised the proposal for promoting the transition to clean energy on Long Island. 

“This is about jobs and economic development,” he said. “We have talked about the importance for Long Island transitioning to clean energy — and that transition needs to happen quicker than a lot of people thought.”

The operations and maintenance hub in Port Jeff will provide dockage for a 250-foot service operation vessel. The ship would come to port every two to four weeks for approximately one to two days at a time to exchange crew and materials for the wind farm. The vessel will be able to accommodate about 60 technicians and 40 crew members.  

The county executive mentioned the proposed project is an opportunity to create a “21st century industry of high paying jobs.”

“These are the jobs of the future, and these are the jobs we want to see on Long Island and in Suffolk County,” he said. 

Zalcman said if they are awarded the bid by the state, they would need to break ground and begin construction in Port Jeff within 18 months to meet deadlines. Development could last through the mid-2020s.  

Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association has been promoting offshore wind for the past 10 years, and he said it works. 

“We now have multi-billion-dollar international companies looking to invest in our region,” Law said. “I’ve always said our energy challenges are economic development opportunities.”

Ørsted is also the owner and operator of the Block Island Wind Farm, the first and only operating wind farm in the U.S. currently. Last year, they acquired Deepwater Wind, the company originally handling the Block Island project, and now are responsible for New York’s first offshore wind project, the South Fork Farm under contract with the Long Island Power Authority. 

“I’ve always said our energy challenges are economic development opportunities.”

— Kevin Law

Maria Hoffman, chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), said the bid amounts are not made public until after the awards are announced. Each of the four major developers seeking the NYSERDA funds submitted several proposals with varying megawatt capacities.

In conjunction to the project, Ørsted announced in February it will invest $10 million to create a National Workforce Training Center at Suffolk County Community College to train students in offshore wind and renewable energy technology. The creation of the hub in Port Jeff and the training center are contingent on NYSERDA selecting Sunrise Wind in its pending offshore wind request for proposal. 

NYSERDA has said it plans on announcing the winner of the award within the month, according to Ørsted officials.

File photo

By Donna Deedy

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) agenda includes converting the state to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. Many people are ready to join the initiative but are unsure what to do.

Gordian Raacke is the executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, a nonprofit group founded in 2003 that is committed to transitioning Long Islanders to 100 percent renewable sources of energy. His organization educates the public, works with local governments and works with community interest groups to bring about the shifts needed to enable widespread adoption of renewable energy. Raacke offers this advice to people eager to make a move toward clean energy:

Is there a hierarchy of strategies that people can implement to make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources? 

People often ask me, and I always tell them that the best place to start is by stopping needless energy waste. There are lots of ways to get started, big and small; and if big is not feasible it is totally OK to start small. The important thing is to take the first step, and then the next …

When people are looking to go solar, it is useful to remember that energy efficiency improvements are the most cost-effective way to lower your energy bills. And making energy efficiency improvements first means that the size of the solar array can be smaller and therefore less costly. 

Where should homeowners start? 

The easiest way for a homeowner to get started in a comprehensive way is to get a free home energy audit through PSEG-LI’s program, www.psegliny.com/saveenergyandmoney/homeefficiency/homeassessments/homeenergyassessment. A specially trained, Building Performance Institute–accredited contractor will assess the energy efficiency of your home with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and produce a list of recommended improvements with expected costs and savings. The homeowner can then decide which recommendations to follow and can also obtain rebates and financing for this. NYSERDA [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority] also has a web page on this at www.nyserda.ny.gov/Residents-and-Homeowners/At-Home/Home-Energy-Audits. 

There are also a lot of useful lists of things that we can do. PSEG-LI’s brochure “66 Ways to Save Energy” is actually pretty good (also online at www.psegliny.com/saveenergyandmoney/tipsandtools/66waystosave; but you have to click on the various tabs to read it all).

NYSERDA has a page at www.nyserda.ny.gov/Residents-and-Homeowners/At-Home/Energy-Saving-Tips.

And there is lots more if you Google it.

What’s the first step?

Super-simple things are, of course, just replacing conventional or compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs with more energy-efficient LED bulbs (their light quality has improved a lot over earlier versions, and they are quite inexpensive now). Adding low-flow adapters to kitchen, bath and shower can help reduce hot water heating costs. Replacing the thermostats with internet-controlled smart thermostats can save money on both heating and cooling costs. And sealing cracks around windows and doors can often be done by DIY homeowners. When shopping for new appliances, it pays to look at the EnergyStar ratings and select models with lower annual energy costs. Pool pumps are now much more energy efficient (called variable speed pool pumps) and save a lot of electricity during the summer. Some of these items are offered with attractive utility rebates.

Is it a good time to go solar?

When going solar, it is important to get several estimates from reputable and experienced local contractors. It is also important to fully understand the difference between owning and leasing a system. And, by the end of this year, the federal solar tax credit for residential rooftop solar arrays is decreasing (and will continue to decrease further). To be eligible to get the current 30 percent federal tax credit, a solar array has to be in service by Dec. 31, 2019. So now is a good time to get some solar estimates.

Both Renewable Energy Long Island and the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College offer advice on finding reputable solar contractors. The Sustainability Institute, also a nonprofit, publishes on its website an evaluation on choosing between owning and leasing. Renewable Energy Long Island’s website is www.renewableenergylongisland.org. The Sustainability Institute’s website is www.longislandgreenhomes.org. Its lease vs. buy comparison is under the Go Solar tab at the top of the homepage.

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We get it — if you read our newspapers or just about any other media that cover Long Island, you’ve heard enough over the past decade about the legal battles going on between several school districts and townships versus Long Island Power Authority.

If you feel like you’re on LIPA overload, we have some significant news — a major development occurred in the cases last week. A New York State Supreme Court judge determined that the 1997 Power Supply Agreement between National Grid, which owns the power plants, and LIPA, which transmits that electricity to customers, did not contain any language, or “promise,” that prevented the utility companies from seeking to have taxes they pay on the power stations reduced.

The good news is this decision may signal there’s a light at the end of the tunnel to this endlessly drawn-out court battle. We fear the positives may end there.

LIPA has said that its intention in filing these lawsuits is to be able to reduce energy bills for its customers, as it hopes to pay out less in property taxes. On its face, the company’s goal appears to a good thing for residents of Huntington and Brookhaven townships, who will likely see a reduction in their monthly electrical bills should LIPA be victorious, except for the residents in Northport and Port Jefferson, who will see a property tax increase. These odds seem an increasingly likely fact in recent weeks as courts have ruled twice  in LIPA’s favor.

However, these legal battles have been waged for nearly a decade, racking up what we can only imagine are substantial legal bills from lawyers hired to represent the municipalities and the school districts involved. Then adding in fees paid for a third-party mediator when sit-downs begin in September, we find ourselves asking, “At what cost?”

We hope to find out just how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on legal fees for the duration of the saga, so keep an eye out for that. And for what? The “Hail Mary” play that a court would determine the 1997 PSA had implied a legally binding promise that LIPA wouldn’t seek a reduction in its property taxes.

It was such a risky play for Brookhaven Town and Port Jefferson Village that those two municipalities have agreed to settle the cases out of court to avoid exposure to the risk of years of back pay should the issue actually end up in a trial loss for the two entities. Still, why did it take Brookhaven and Port Jeff until 2018 to finally reach a settlement while legal fees kept accruing?

All of this can also be looked at against the backdrop that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has set a goal for 50 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030. Who’s going to pay for the solar and wind producing plants necessary, for example, to get on track in reaching that goal? We don’t think we’re going out on a limb in speculating that at least some of that cost will fall on LIPA’s customers.

While we’d like to think we’re inching closer to a day when we no longer have to report on legal issues pertaining to LIPA, a positive resolution for all stakeholders is going to take significantly more work. In reality, it should have been resolved long ago.

Town of Huntington will host a Organ Donor Enrollment Day Oct. 10. File photo by Rohma Abbas

As the Town of Huntington is entrenched in a lengthy legal battle with Long Island Power Authority, its elected officials are looking to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and move to sources of renewable energy.

Huntington town board unanimously agreed to apply for a $62,500 grant from New York State’s Climate Smart Communities Grant Program at its July 17 meeting. If the funding is approved, the town will move forward with a study of its current energy use and how to transition to using more renewable energy resources.

There is a nationwide movement of towns pledging to go renewable by 2050 and we want Huntington to be one of those towns.”

– Jenny Strandberg

“There is a nationwide movement of towns pledging to go renewable by 2050 and we want Huntington to be one of those towns,” Jenny Strandberg said.

Strandberg is one of many Mothers Out Front, a grassroots community organization pushing for a transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy, who asked Huntington officials to move forward with the study and renew their pledge to protect the environment.

“If everyone on the planet lived like the average American, you would need five planets,” said Jennifer Browns, a professor of sociology of LIU Post and Mothers Out Front member. “We need a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy and we need it now.”

Huntington first adopted the state’s Climate Smart Communities pledge in 2012. By taking the pledge, the town made several promises to its residents including trying to “decrease energy use” and “build a climate-smart community.”

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said in order for the town to become Climate Smart Community certified, it would need to hire a consultant to perform a Government Operations Greenhouse Gas Inventory to
assess what emissions its producing, a 100 percent Renewable Energy Feasibility Study and then a Capital Phase-In Plan to determine and set a schedule to meet the town’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. The estimated cost for those steps is approximately $125,000, according to Lupinacci. The town is seeking funding for half through the state grant.

“The sooner we get it in, the more we can beat people to the top of the line to make sure we show our commitment and we are ready to roll on it,” Lupinacci said.

Let me state clearly, it is LIPA’s policy to transition to renewable energy 50 percent by 2030.”

– Peter Gollon

The program requires the town provide 50 percent matching funds, for which it will pull $62,500 from the its Environmental Open Space & Park Fund Review Advisory Committee’s Green Project Fund. The committee has already approved the project.

Both East Hampton and Southampton townships on the East End have already become Climate Smart Communities certified by going through this process, according to Huntington resident Tara Kotlia. She said she would like to see the Town of Huntington become the third.

Peter Gollon, a Huntington resident and board trustee for Long Island Power Authority, said if Huntington moves forward with the study and transitions to renewable energy, it would bring the town more in line with the utility company’s long-term vision.

“Let me state clearly, it is LIPA’s policy to transition to renewable energy 50 percent by 2030,” Gollon said.

He stressed that LIPA and the power  companies will continue to push renewable energy as the future, and encouraged the town to do the same.

“It’s clear different communities must engage, set examples for each other and move toward clean energy, renewable energy as soon as possible,” Gollon said. “Huntington must continue to be a leader