Energy Update

August 10, 2017No comments

By Lilia Factor, Energy Chair, Long Island Sierra Club

At its July 26, 2017 meeting, LIPA’s Board of Trustees approveda Policy on Resource Planning, Energy, Efficiency and Renewable Energy. One of the items commits the agency to:
” Procuring cost-effective renewable resources, renewable energy certificates, and behind-the-meter resources such as energy efficiency and demand response, including acting in coordination with other State energy authorities, if advantageous to our customers. In selecting among reasonably comparable alternatives, the Authority will opt for lower carbon-emitting resources. ”

This renewed commitment comes at a time when renewable resources, such as solar and offshore wind, are moving to economies of scale. To date, Long Island produces about 367 mw (megawatts) of renewable energy, mostly from solar. Its goal is to reach 800 mw by 2030, in keeping with New York State’s REV (Reforming the Energy Vision) plan of achieving 50% renewable generation by that date. In the latest round of RFPs (requests for proposals), LIPA has approved projects in two renewable categories: commercial solar rooftops (20 mw) and two utility scale solar arrays in Calverton, one by sPower and another by Long Island Solar, a partnership of National Grid and NextEra (totaling just under 60 mw). It also gave the green light for three fuel cells at the Brookhaven Rail Terminal in Yaphank (40 mw). Fuel cells are not classified as renewables, because they run on natural gas, but are considered clean energy due to very low emissions.

With respect to offshore wind, LIPA did not approve a proposal by Deepwater Wind to build a 210 mw wind farm 30 miles from Montauk (in addition to the 90 mw farm approved earlier this year), choosing instead to partner with NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), which is taking the lead in preparing an Offshore Wind Master Plan to achieve the State’s goal of producing 2,400 mw of offshore generation by 2030, enough to power 1.25 million homes . The thinking is that waiting until more regional wind projects go forward will allow for more competitive pricing and economies of scale, arbitered by the state as whole. According to Doreen Harris, NYSERDA’s new Director, today’s wind turbines are larger and cheaper than earlier models. It would require about 240 to 300 of these to achieve the REV goal. The turbines would be spaced one mile apart, with cables buried six feet under the seabed. Three public meetings have already been held on Long Island and more are planned for the New York City area in August. NYSERDA is currently conducting 20 studies to help guide the siting of offshore wind installations to minimize impact on bird and marine life, fishing, and navigation. The studies will be released on its website as they are completed.

Another project which has garnered much attention this year was the solar farm proposed at the site of the former Shoreham nuclear plant. The project would have required clearing 350 acres of forest at the site and was vigorously opposed by the Town of Brookhaven Supervisor, community groups, local legislators,and many environmentalists opposed to trading “green for green”. In July of this year, LIPA rejected the project, citing the above issues. It also nixed the “Poseidon Transmission Project” which called for a 78 mile cable from New Jersey to the Ruland substation in Melville to transmit out-of-state renewable energy to Long Island. The utility hopes to achieve more cost-effective options in the future.

In other news, in September 2017, the City University of New York is set to launch the LI Solar Layer of the NY Solar Map. This online tool will allow any user to put in a property address on Long Island and see its estimated potential and cost for a rooftop or ground-mounted solar installation. The website includes a solar calculator, links to solar installers, and other relevant information. The project was financed and supported by Sierra Club Long Island together with PSEG-LI and is expected to be a catalyst for new solar installations in our area.

Finally, the Public Service Commission has granted a request by National Grid to allow the peaker plants at Port Jefferson and Glenwood Landing to run at their full capacity of 94 mw. These plants are turned on during times of high demand and their role is expected to decrease as more energy efficiency measures and additional distributed resources come online, according to LIPA’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan. One example of energy efficiency is the use of Dynamic Load Management by PSEG-LI, whereby the utility remotely adjusts the central air conditioning thermostats of certain customers and provides incentives to reduce peak demand on hot summer days.

1Comments on the Master Plan can be submitted until August 31, 2017 at: https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Offshore-Wind/Comments.