The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently announced two new investment programs that will help the clean-energy industry grow the state.
The first is dedicated to encouraging new clean-power products. The other is directed to the manufacturing process, encouraging companies to find new ways to produce technology while using less fossil fuel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In conjunction with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and San Diego-based energy company enXco, Suffolk County plans to construct solar power generating carports at seven major parking lots. Dubbed the Eastern Long Island Solar Project, plans for the $120 million venture were announced, Tuesday, January 19, by County Executive Steve Levy and LIPA President and CEO Kevin Law at the Legislative Auditorium in Hauppauge.
“This is a very proud day in Suffolk as we become the first county in New York to generate solar power on county property,” Mr. Levy said.
The project, which will consist of nearly 60,000 solar modules covering roughly 46 acres of surface area, will generate revenue for Suffolk County totaling $8.5 million over the next twenty years. If all seven “power lots” are utilized, they will generated as much as 17 megawatts of solar power, enough to power 1,850 homes. Sitting perched above parking spaces, the solar carports will not hinder the amount of space at each lot nor interfere with snow-removal vehicles.
“This project, along with the BP Solar project [at Brookhaven National Lab], will be the largest solar power project on the east coast,” Mr. Law said. “We should be proud of that.”
enXco, a renewable energy company with 20-years experience in the industry and one of the two firms selected through a Request for Proposals by LIPA to provide up to 50 megawatts of solar power to the grid, will fund the project privately. Under an annual lease revenue agreement, enXco will be allowed to work and operate on county property for the next twenty years, thus netting Suffolk County the estimated $8.5 million. The energy generated by the “power lots” will then be purchased by LIPA and distributed to its customers, also under a 20-year agreement.
“It is because of forward thinking individuals at LIPA, Suffolk County and enXco that we stand on the verge of one of the nation’s most innovative utility scale solar PV installations,” said Hanson Wood of enXco, the project’s senior developer.
Mr. Law said the project’s contracts should be finalized in February. It was estimated that construction could begin as early as April and last up to one year, creating 150 local jobs for that duration.
When asked about hindering parking, Mr. Wood said construction would be kept to a maximum of 100 parking spaces at any given time. He said once up and operating the solar power modules require minimal maintenance and that enXco has fully considered the yearly weather conditions of Suffolk County.
According to Mr. Law, the Eastern Long Island Solar Project and the BP Solar project at Brookhaven National Laboratory will cost LIPA approximately $400 million over 20 years, or $20 million annually. That translates to an 83-cent monthly increase for LIPA customers, or $9.96 annually.
“We need to view this as an investment,” Mr. Law said. “Europe is so far ahead of us we need to make an investment today. This is a hedge against fossil fuels.”
No right of ownership to the property has yet to be determined once the 20-year contract expires. Both Mr. Law and Mr. Wood said that enXco would be presented a renewable option at that time.
The seven parking lots, their location, and their energy producing potential are as follows: the H. Lee Dennison Building, Hauppauge (1.75 MW of solar power generated by 7,737 solar modules on 24 solar arrays); the North County Complex, Hauppauge (0.5 MW generated by 3,431 modules on 9 arrays); the Cohalan Court Complex, Central Islip (3.5 MW generated by 15,113 modules on 27 arrays); the Riverhead County Center, Riverhead (3 MW generated on 11,536 on 31 arrays); Deer Park LIRR Parking Lot (2.25 MW generated by 3,924 solar modules on 39 arrays); the south-side Ronkonkoma LIRR Parking Lot (5 MW generated by 20,110 modules on 44 arrays).