Monthly Archives: December 2010

Movies for the Snow

Snowed in? Here’s a couple films that might interest you and help fight off cabin fever.

The first is “Dimming the Sun,” a 58-minute documentary produced by NOVA which explores the notion of global dimming.

Precisely as it sounds, global dimming is less of the sun’s rays reaching earth. I know what you’re thinking, but as the film points out, it’s not so great.

The film takes a linear approach and first explains the science behind the fact that solar rays reaching the earth are actually decreasing. A Indian scientist then explains this is because of pollution particles. The pollution particles (think smog) in the atmosphere attract water molecules. Instead of allowing the water molecules to collect in large amounts in clouds and then form rain, the water molecules are kept smaller by the pollution particles, thus they stay grouped in the atmosphere for a longer period of time. As a result, the sun’s rays are blocked from reaching the earth as they bounce off the water molecules like a mirror.

So, on one hand pollution is keeping solar rays out. On the other hand, pollution (greenhouse gases) are keeping heat in the atmosphere and heating the earth. This is when the scary news is dropped on the audience.

Without global dimming the movie contends that global warming would be happening at a much faster pace (interestingly, some of the research that points this out is the increase in US continental temperatures the day after September 11, a day without jets, and their pollution, in the sky).

The concluding portion of the film discusses the precarious balance of global dimming and global warming and the effects on the earth if both are handled incorrectly.

Ultimately this is a quick and insightful movie that, though released in 2004, explores a topic not heard about much.

For the Suffolk readers out there, this film is available through the county’s library system. For the readers out there from farther away, thanks for reading. Also, try Amazon.com as the film is listed used for $7.94.

The second movie recommendation is “No Impact Man,” an interesting 2009 documentary. I say interesting because watching a 5th Avenue couple stool over their transition to a lifestyle that will have no impact on the environment comes across as self centered and pretentious at first. But, as the movie grows longer (eventually for a total of 93 minutes) you start to relate to Colin and Michelle Beavan, and their young daughter Isabella, just as the family itself grows and adopts to their new lifestyle.

Overall this is an entertaining film. Colin, a writer, implements a lifestyle of no environmental impact for one year (no garbage, electricity, cars, new products) with the aim of eventually writing a book about the experience. His wife, Michelle, very much a consumer, has to make the biggest adjustment to the project and ultimately does.

I kept asking myself throughout this film if the aim of the Beavan’s project is silly because its in opposition to human progress through out history. Then, by the end, I as a viewer, and the Beavan’s as a family, realize its not about living a Spartan lifestyle to the max, but rather compromising on consumption.

Again, this is an entertaining film and worth watching, especially if you’ve lived in New York City before. For more information, check out the No Impact Man blog, where the film can be purchased. If you are a Suffolk library card holder, this film is available through county’s library system.

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LIPA rolls out rebate for hybrids

LIPA announced a new rebate program Monday, December 20 and its aimed at keeping energy efficiency rolling.

Joined by Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron, and managers of the Atlantic Chevrolet Cadillac Dealership in Bay Shore, LIPA CEO Michael Hervey introduced a $500 rebate good through the end of 2011 for any customer who purchases a new, qualified plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), or plug-in electric vehicle (PEV).

“This is very exciting for us,” said Hervey standing in front of a brand new black 2011 Chevy Volt, one of the first to arrive on Long Island. “These cars are much more efficient to drive than gasoline.”

As of now, the rebate applies to the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. To qualify, a sales receipt, car registration, and proof of current LIPA service must be provided to the utility company. Afterwards, a rebate check will be mailed to those that qualify, according to Hervey.

The first to benefit from the rebate was Bill Rosenthal. The East Hampton resident, who found out about the rebate on the morning of the announcement, was at the dealership to purchase the new Chevy Volt.

“I’ve been following the Volt for quite some time,” Rosenthal said. “It’s fun to drive and its something that will help the environment.”

For Rosenthal, 49, this is his second Chevy Volt and called the vehicle ideal for his daily commute of less than one mile and his weekly commute of under 40. He said the car’s price tag is just north of $40,000, but qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Rosenthal said he is planning on using the rebate to purchase a charging station for his new vehicle.

This rebate initiative makes LIPA the first utility in the state to offer an electric vehicle program. Mr. Hervey said the $500 rebate is enough to cover the approximated electrical costs for the yearly charging of a PHEV. He said an increase in electric vehicles on the road would only help LIPA service its customers.

“Providing incentives for these cars, which will likely be charged at off-peak times, will allow for LIPA to purchase power at lower costs, which benefits all of our customers economically and environmentally,” Mr. Hervey said.

The announcement of the rebate comes only weeks after LIPA reinstated its solar pioneer program for homeowners purchasing a photovoltaic system. Under LIPA’s Efficiency Long Island program, a large array of rebates are offered to help customers reduce their energy usage. To find out more, visit LIPA’s rebate page on its web site.

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LIPA announces hybrid rebate

On Monday, December 20, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) will announce a new Plug-In Electric Hybrid Rebate program for LIPA customers who purchase and register a new, qualified plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) or plug-in electric vehicle (PEV).

The announcement is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Atlantic Chevrolet Cadillac located in Bay Shore at 1356 Sunrise Highway.

The dealership will also be welcoming the arrival of the Chevy Volt on the same day.

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Suffolk County passes energy audit bill

The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously passed a bill, Tuesday, December 7 requiring companies that perform home energy audits first comply with specific regulations.

The bill (I.R. 1834), which was introduced by Legislator Wayne Horsley (D-Lindenhurst), is a consumer protection measure that requires any company performing or advertising home energy audits be registered with Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs, and have proper certification.

“This bill ends deceptive practices by standardizing home energy audits in Suffolk County,” Legislator Horsley said. “It will ensure that homeowners seeking to make their homes more energy efficient in order to lower their utility bills will receive consistent value from their home energy improvement investment.”

Companies performing or advertising home energy audits must be certified with the Building Performance Institute (BPI), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or the equivalent.

The law reflects recommendations made by the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College a “Green Paper” the organization released over the summer. In the Green Paper, the standardization of energy audits is detailed and can be viewed here.

With the bill passed, those in violation are subject to fines ranging from $750 for first time offenders up to $1,500 for subsequent offenses.

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reLI December Newsletter

Renewable Energy Long Island, a leading local non-for-profit organization that promotes clean, sustainable energy, recently published its December newsletter. Within the monthly newsletter you will find green gift ideas, how much you can save using LED lights for holiday decorations, LIPA’s new solar hot water rebate program, an update about the return of LIPA’s Solar Pioneer program and more. View the newsletter here.

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Governor Paterson on LI to usher in groundbreaking Solar Project

Nearly two and a half years after visiting Long Island to denounce the proposed Broadwater natural gas terminal, New York State Governor David Paterson returned to the area, Thursday, December 2, again focused on energy.

New York State Governor David Paterson at the Suffolk Solar Carport Project groundbreaking, Thursday, December 2.

This time around Governor Paterson came in approval of an energy initiative, the largest solar carport instillation in the country, and he wasn’t alone as a handful of public and private officials were in attendance at the Brentwood train station for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Suffolk Solar Carport Project, a venture that will generate 17 Megawatts (MW) of electricity through the instillation of solar carports at an estimated seven parking lots across the county.

The project is a culmination of private and public cooperation in which enXco, a San Diego-based project development company will construct 60,000 photovoltaic solar panels above 46 acres of public parking space. Once installed, it was estimated at the groundbreaking that the carports will collectively produce enough clean energy to power 1,850 homes while displacing an estimated 14,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

“This is a milestone in clean technology,” said Governor Paterson before a crowd of roughly 150 people at the groundbreaking. “The County of Suffolk, and LIPA, in collaboration with enXco, is really going to be a magnificent undertaking, not only for this region but for the economy of the state.”

Through a lease-revenue agreement, enXco will pay to build on county property, netting Suffolk $8.5 million to $9 million dollars, as estimated by LIPA CEO Micheal Hervey who spoke during the groundbreaking. According to enXco communications director Sandi Briner, the company would then contract out the construction of the carports to Baja Construction, a California-based company, and the instillation of the solar panels to Mercury Solar, a Port Chester-based company with offices in Holtsville. Once completed, which Mr. Hervey said should be some time in the fourth quarter of 2011, the power produced by the carports will be purchased by LIPA and distributed to the electric company’s customers.

“It’s a win-win-win,” County Executive Levy said. “It’s a win for the environment, a win for the county, and a win for the private entrepreneurs.”

Though the smallest of the seven proposed sites — 1 MW from 3,900 panels – Ms. Briner said the Brentwood train station was selected as the groundbreaking site due to the available access at the parking lot. She said the overall project will be completed on a cascading schedule with the Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip (4MW, 14,800 panels) next, then the North County Complex in Hauppauge (2.5 MW, 8,100 panels) followed by the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge (2MW, 6,700 panels) and then the Riverhead County Complex (3MW, 10,700 panels).

When the project was originally announced in January, the Deer Park train station and the Ronkonkoma train station were expected carports that could produce 2.25 MW and 5 MW, respectively. At the groundbreaking, both location’s capacities were left as a to be determined status. Mr. Hervey said that if the 17 MW output is achieved with the first five sites that the Deer Park and Ronkonkoma train station carports might not then be needed. Considering the variables in the output of each carport, Mr. Hervey said that is something that could not be determined at this time.

Through out the ceremony several speakers expressed not only the environmental benefits of the project, but also the fact that the construction of the carports would not disrupt the local environment nor effect the availability of parking at each location. Also expressed by several speakers, the importance of Governor Paterson’s history in pursuing clean energy. Mr. Hervey called Governor Paterson and NYSERDA – the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority – very involved in the project, specifically regarding federal stimulus funds that were awarded to LIPA by the State which will allow the electric company to connect the solar carports to the Long Island electric grid.

While addressing the crowd, Governor Paterson said the project is in accord with his clean energy initiative to have New York State achieve 45 percent of its energy needs by 2015 through clean sources.

“When I was Lieutenant Governor I called for 100 megawatts by 2011,” the Governor said. “We will more than surpass that.”

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