A Help to Reduce Energy Consumption

A small but important component of East Hampton Town’s transition to renewable energy will be detailed at Town Hall during a meeting of the town board’s energy sustainability advisory committee on Monday at 5 p.m. 

Bruce Humenik of Applied Energy Group, an energy industry consultancy that specializes in efficiency and renewables, will discuss the South Fork Peak Savers program, which aims to help businesses and residents reduce energy consumption. 

A.E.G., under contract with PSEG Long Island, is to provide 8.3 megawatts of load control and energy efficiency measures on the South Fork, where demand is growing at about twice the rate as the rest of Long Island. 

The program has two components, Mr. Humenik said. One is the promotion of energy efficiency in commercial establishments. “Meaning, we are out doing free energy assessments in small businesses, and offering free lighting, in most cases.” Replacing fluorescent and incandescent lighting with LED products saves 50 to 90 percent of lighting costs and energy consumption, he said. 

A.E.G. has performed more than 60 assessments of small business, mostly in Montauk, Mr. Humenik said, and this week began installation of energy-efficient lighting. 

On the residential side, A.E.G. will promote the replacement of single-stage swimming pool pumps with variable-speed models. “They save a lot of energy,” he said of the latter, “which saves customers a lot of money. Variable-speed uses only 10 percent of the energy a single-stage uses. The customer saves money, the utility saves energy.” 

Along with swimming pool pumps, central air-conditioning accounts for much of the South Fork’s peak electricity demand. A.E.G. aims to reduce peak demand through a direct load control initiative. Under the program, homeowners with “smart” thermostats, such as the Nest programmable and self-learning, WiFi-enabled model, voluntarily allow A.E.G. to control their thermostats during peak periods. Homeowners will be offered $250 to participate, Mr. Humenik said. That program, he said, should launch next month.

Once the program is underway, he said, A.E.G. would offer those who do not have a smart thermostat additional incentives to participate. “Ninety-five percent of people who buy one can install it themselves,” he said of smart thermostats. “But in cases where people cannot, we will install them.”

Mr. Humenik called the South Fork Peak Savers program “a good start,” one that will forestall the construction of more transmission and distribution infrastructure. 

It will also help to preclude construction of more fossil-fuel peak power plants on the South Fork, said Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island and a former member of the energy sustainability committee, and will contribute to the goal, set by the town board in 2014, to achieve 100 percent of the town’s electricity consumption from renewable sources. The South Fork Peak Savers program is “a much-needed and important initiative,” he said, “as it will help home and business owners save money on electric bills while reducing the extreme spikes of peak electric power demand during the summer.” 

“While electricity demand across the rest of Long Island has leveled off,” he said, “we are still seeing ever-increasing demand during the summer season out here.” Key to the program’s success, he said, “is that everyone participates.”

The program “ties in with the goals of the East Hampton and Southampton sustainability committees,” Mr. Humenik said, while LIPA’s customers “will see real savings from the kind of things we're doing immediately.”  

A.E.G. has established a hotline for those interested in participating, 833-346-2181. Information can also be requested via an email to info@southforkpeaksavers.com. A website will launch as early as next week, he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article had the incorrect phone number for the A.E.G. hotline. The correct number is 833-346-2181.