East Hampton Town is continuing its focus on achieving its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy, and an expected $100,000 state grant will give a boost to those efforts.
The town is eligible for the grant, issued by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, as it has met the criteria to become a “clean energy community,” Kim Shaw, East Hampton’s director of natural resources, reported recently to the town board.
To do so, she said, East Hampton has completed several “high-impact actions,” as designated by NYSERDA, to “implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment,” according to the agency.
The initiatives, overseen by the town’s Natural Resources Department, have included converting streetlights to energy-efficient LED technology, instituting a Clean Fleet program by using alternative-fuel vehicles and installing electric vehicle charging stations, training building inspectors in implementation of the state building code regarding energy efficiency, creating an incentive program for the installation of solar energy systems, and adopting a “benchmarking” program, a policy through which the town tracks and reports on energy usage in its buildings while identifying ways to reduce energy waste and publicly reporting that progress.
At a meeting of the town board last week, Ms. Shaw recommended using the $100,000 award to replace lighting in at least seven town buildings with energy-efficient systems and to obtain new electric cars and charging stations.
Six charging stations could be installed throughout the town not only to serve the town’s cars but to encourage residents to choose electric vehicles as well. In addition to the overall NYSERDA grant, Ms. Shaw said, the town would be eligible for rebates on leases for the electric cars of up to $5,000 from the state and up to $7,000 in federal money.
Advanced technology will allow fast charging of the cars, which are expected to be able to travel 140 miles on each charge, Ms. Shaw said.
The town’s Human Services Department has been using hybrid electric cars, Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said, but the seven hours required to recharge them compromises their efficiency.
The new lighting will not only be paid for by the grant money, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc pointed out, but will provide ongoing savings to the town on energy costs.
The board will have to formally approve the projects for which the NYSERDA money will be used and submit that information to the state for final approval and issuing of the grant.
At a January meeting, Supervisor Larry Cantwell had pressed for a focus on solar energy installations. However, for this grant program, Ms. Shaw explained, the funded projects must be completed within a short time period, and planning for a solar installation would take too long.
Nonetheless, the Natural Resources Department, she said, is analyzing the feasibility of solar energy installations on various town buildings. Those projects could be funded using other grant programs.
Grant money is currently available, she said, for installing solar power systems at affordable housing sites such as the St. Michael’s senior housing and Windmill affordable apartment complexes, and that possibility is being studied, she said.