The average Long Islander pays $156 per month for home energy. After approving a $423 million, 20-year purchase agreement for two projects that will generate 50 MW of clean, renewable energy—enough to power 6,500 households on Long Island–through a solar farm at Brookhaven Laboratory and solar panels in parking lots throughout Suffolk County, LIPA says the average customer will pay about the same.
LIPA President and CEO Kevin Law along with 15 trustees approved power purchase agreements with BP Solar and enXco Development Corp on Thursday, a decision that will create the state’s largest source of solar power on Long Island, and the largest solar farm in the U.S.
“While Long Island is no longer the defense capital of the region, this project will pave the way for making Long Island the solar capital of the region,” said Law. “Don’t let the critics of the program alarm you–it’s 2 percent of our budget.”
That 2 percent translates into an average household cost of $3.76 per month but comes with a 65 percent increase in LIPA’s efficiency program and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 45,300 tons per year.
To defray some of the costs of the projects, LIPA is actively pursuing funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in the amount of $15 million and has already secured federal appropriations from Congressman Steve Israel in the amount of $1.75 million.
Law says a typical customer will be paying the same price they did in January of 2006, and with other cuts factored in, less than in January of 2009.
But not everyone is on board.
“I think we’re missing a golden opportunity here to actually reduce rates rather than increase rates,” said Matthew Cordero, a dean at Dowling College who says wind and solar technology is still in its “immature” stages. “I think the board could implement a decrease by sharpening its pencil and cutting back on renewable and efficiency projects.”
“I went to a holiday party the other night where people were actually coming up to me, thanking me for the first time in two years and it was nice to not get my head bashed in,” said Law. “If we cant use now, with all the challenges we have, to begin in our energy future, when will we ever do it?”