An energy company’s proposal to build a 7.5 megawatt solar power plant on at the Calverton Enterprise Park is one of 11 selected today by L.I. Power Authority trustees for development of 122.1 megawatts of renewable energy on Long Island.

The facility will be the first project in Riverhead Town’s planned energy park at the enterprise park and town officials are optimistic it will soon be followed with other energy production plans. LIPA trustees today also authorized a supplemental solicitation for an additional 160 MW of renewable capacity “commencing delivery as soon as practicable in the 2018-2020 timeframe.”

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Councilman George Gabrielsen
(Photo: Denise Civiletti)

Councilman George Gabrielsen, who proposed the energy park last December and has worked over the past year to cultivate energy production proposals for town-owned land in the enterprise park was thrilled with the news today that one of the energy companies selected by Riverhead Town, Hecate Energy, was picked by LIPA in its competitive proposal process.

“I’m very happy,” Gabrielsen said this afternoon. “A lot of effort went into this,” he said, singling out deputy town attorney Ann Marie Prudenti and town engineer Ken Testa for praise.

The councilman predicted that other solar projects will soon come to EPCAL’s energy park, given the LIPA trustees’ directive today to seek up to an additional 160 MW of renewable energy.

“This is only the beginning of the energy park. It’s the first step,” Gabrielsen said. “I’ve been told they love our spot. They like its location and the fact that it’s close to the transmission lines. So I’m optimistic this is the first award but it’s not the end. And that’s very exciting.”

Supervisor Sean Walter agreed.

“It’s the base hit we needed at EPCAL to show the world we can do something with this property,” Walter said.

“We’re perfectly situated with EPCAL,” he said. “The 7,000-foot runway is going to remain open. It’s not going to be covered with dirt,” he said referring to an earlier request by the state DEC to create grasslands on the unused runway, intended to replenish grasslands habitat that will be removed by planned development at the site. “That’s another 60 acres of great land for this use,” he said. The Hecate proposal will probably require about 60 acres to build, Gabrielsen said.

The Hecate power plant will also give the town a much-needed shot in the arm financially, according to officials. They said the plant would mean upwards of half a million per year in rent if the town leases the land to Hecate, or several million dollars in sales proceeds if the company buys the land from the town. Gabrielsen said the town is prohibited by a confidentiality agreement not to publicly discuss hard numbers yet.

The LIPA trustees’ resolution, approved at a board meeting today in Uniondale, authorizes negotiation of negotiations for individual 20-year power purchase agreements with companies proposing 11 different solar projects.

In addition to the Hecate proposal, LIPA trustees today also gave a green light to three other proposed solar facilities in the Town of Riverhead, all on privately owned lands in the hamlet of Calverton.

Community Energy Solar proposes to build and operate a 41,500-panel 10.0 MW solar facility on Middle Country Road in Calverton. The site is on the south side of the road, just east of the enterprise park. (Target commercial production date: September 2016.)

Sybac Solar, plans to build a 44,500-panel solar plant that will produce 9.9 MW of electricity on at 450-500 Edwards Avenue, vacant land located on the west side of the road about one-third of a mile south of Middle Country Road. (Target commercial production date: July 2016.)

sPower proposes a 20 MW solar facility located on two parcels: one at 100-200 Edwards Avenue in Calverton, on the west side of the road, and the other at 400-500 Edwards Avenue on the east side of the road. The sPower facility will use approximately 93,000 panels. (Target commercial production date: December 2016.)

The town supervisor said he’s less wary about the development of solar farms around town.

“Honestly I can’t say I’m happy it’s going to be built all over Calverton. This is the reason we limited solar installations to industrial zones. Companies were looking to put them all over the open farmland all over town. Hopefully these are all on industrially zoned properties. But even so, my initial impression is I’m not going to be happy seeing this all over Calverton.”

LIPA trustees also selected: the 108,000-panel 24.99 MW Tallgrass Solar proposal located between 5-50 Cooper Street on the south side of the road in East Shoreham; a 16.0 MW solar facility proposed for Captain Daniel Roe Highway in Eastport; a 10.0 MW solar plant planned for Fairmont Avenue in Medford; two proposals in Yaphank, a 9.8 MW facility on Ramsey Road and a 10.0 MW \facility on Horseblock Road; and two 2.0 MW solar facilities on Old Northport Road in Kings Park.

There were 38 proposals submitted in response to the request for proposals issued by LIPA in October 2013, according to a LIPA staff memorandum about the RFP, the selection process and the projects chosen for development. LIPA passed over wind project and fuel cell proposals.

“The wind projects were not selected primarily because of their total cost relative to other alternatives, including financial risks inherent in those proposals,” according to the memo. “Similarly, none of the fuel cell proposals, which would all be fueled by natural gas, were selected due to price risks inherent in those proposals.”

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.