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Source: Times Beacon Record Newspapers

Brookhaven Town gives energy plan green light

Public-private partnership could yield up to $2.5M annually for town

BY ERIKA KARP

Posted: March 20, 2013
Originally Published: March 14, 2013

Dick Amper, Adrienne Esposito, and Ed Romaine.

Dick Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Supervisor Ed Romaine. Photo from the Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town is moving forward with a plan for a large, multilocation alternative energy project that will feature small wind turbines and solar panels on 15 town-owned properties.

"I think what we're talking about is really groundbreaking," Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said at a press conference on Monday. "This will be the largest alternative energy [project] on Long Island."

Last July, the town put out a request for proposals for the project and received six proposals. At the Brookhaven Town Board meeting on Tuesday, board members awarded American Capital Energy, a solar power engineering firm based in Lowell, Mass., the contract for the project. The town attorney can now continue negotiations with the developer. ACE also has a corporate office in New York state. Eldor Contracting Corporation, a Holtsville-based company, will be assisting with the project.

Under the plan, the town will form a public/private partnership for renewable energy generating facilities, such as solar paneling, small wind turbines and solar-fueling stations — where electric cars can charge their batteries — on 15 town-owned sites, including Brookhaven Town Hall, Holtsville Ecology Center, the town's landfill and Centereach Pool.

The sites will be leased to ACE, which will cover the cost and maintenance of the facilities to be added to those sites. ACE will then provide the power generated from the facilities through a power purchase agreement with the Long Island Power Authority.

According to Romaine, the partnership will be a 20-year agreement and once completed will generate between $2 million to $2.5 million annually for the town. Romaine said he expects all the sites to be up and running by 2015.

According to Romaine, all the sites combined are almost twice as big as the solar farm at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and is expected to generate up to 50 megawatts of electricity — enough energy to power 8,400 homes.

Romaine also announced a five-year plan that includes other alternative energy initiatives including tax exemptions for new residential or business construction or improvements that meet green building standards; and replacing town vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles.

Dan Panico, deputy supervisor and councilman (R-Manorville), said the project was a win-win for everyone and that the project will create "real, green, tangible jobs." Once the project moves into the construction phase, it is expected to create about 675 jobs.

"This is great for the environment, this is great for the economy," Romaine said. "This is great for Long Island. We are not dependent on foreign fuels. This will make us more energy independent."

Tom Hunton, president and CEO of ACE, said so far the experience of working on the project has been a humbling one.

"I really can tell you from our perspective that this truly is a model for the country — for the future."