One-Stop Energy Efficiency

David E. Rattray

As part of the Town of East Hampton’s goal to derive 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewable, clean sources, Energize East Hampton, a solar and energy savings program, will be launched on Saturday with an informational booth at the East Hampton Village street fair. The fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Newtown Lane. 

The program, a joint initiative with Long Island Green Homes, South Fork Peak Savers, and Renewable Energy Long Island, is meant to provide “one-stop shopping” to residential and commercial property owners for free or discounted energy efficiency and solar energy projects. 

The program has three components. Solarize East Hampton is intended to make investing in solar power generation easy and affordable through bulk purchasing. Residents and business owners who sign up for solar installations by October will be able to take advantage of group rates by using a designated, prequalified solar installer. The more customers who sign up, the lower the costs will be.  

The state’s NY-Sun initiative, a component of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, will fund the program as part of its investment of up to $1 billion in solar power through 2023 to expand solar installations statewide. 

The town should take every opportunity to incorporate solar energy by offering this initiative, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said at the town board’s meeting on Tuesday. “We can aggregate the purchasing of solar panels, which reduce the cost to consumers by 10 to 30 percent,” he said. Federal and state tax rebates for installing them, he added, “in conjunction with low-cost financing, can allow you to put in a solar installation on your roof for at or below current expenditure of electricity to PSEG.” He hopes to install solar panels on his own house before year’s end, he said, and encouraged other residents to do the same. 

The South Fork Peak Savers program, announced at a November meeting of the town board’s energy sustainability advisory committee, offers free “smart” thermostats and commercial lighting efficiency upgrades, as well as pool pump rebates. 

Under contract with PSEG Long Island, Applied Energy Group, an energy industry consultancy that specializes in efficiency and renewables, is to provide 8.3 megawatts of load control and energy efficiency measures on the South Fork. As part of the program, A.E.G. promotes the replacement of single-stage swimming pool pumps with variable-speed models, which consume a fraction of the energy of a single-stage pump. A.E.G. also aims to reduce peak demand through a direct load control initiative, under which homeowners with smart thermostats, such as the Nest programmable and self-learning, Wi-Fi-enabled model, voluntarily allow A.E.G. to control their thermostats during peak periods. 

Such outside control of thermostats, when orchestrated across the grid, is “not going to be noticeable to the consumer,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said on Tuesday, but will nonetheless result in less energy consumption during peak periods. 

Lastly, Long Island Green Homes offers free home energy assessments and assistance with efficiency programs. 

The free programs are available to residents and businesses of both the town and the village. 

At the town board’s meeting last Thursday, Mr. Van Scoyoc, during an unrelated discussion of the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, referred to the board’s lease of 12 acres of town-owned property on Accabonac Highway in East Hampton to AES Distributed Energy, Inc., which is developing the solar electricity-generating installation previously proposed by SunEdison, which subsequently filed for bankruptcy. That will be online before summer’s end, he said. 

“In addition to that,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said, “we’ve initiated a number of energy-saving efforts,” detailing the Energize East Hampton program’s components. He urged those in attendance or watching on LTV to come to the street fair and learn about the program. “You can help us address reducing peak demand, reducing fossil fuel use, and having cleaner, more reliable energy,” he said.