Hempstead's Hi-Tech Solar Energy System Follows Sun's Path, Blazes Trail for Renewable Power Pioneers

In America's largest township where the sun always shines, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Councilwoman Angie Cullin and a host of green energy partners unveiled two high-tech solar energy panels called solar trackers. The trackers continually adjust themselves and pivot throughout the day to directly face the sun in order to maximize the energy derived from the closest star to our earth. This latest renewable energy initiative is now in full operation at the town's green energy park located in Point Lookout. Also present at the sun-powered unveiling were Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, representatives from LIPA, National Grid, the Point Lookout Civic Association, the Lido Beach Civic Association, New York Institute of Technology, the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy, a clean waterways group named SPLASH and the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA).

"The future of solar power and other renewable energy efforts is so bright that we have to wear shades," announced Murray as she and a group of solar energy advocates donned sunglasses at the unveiling of the new solar trackers. "Seriously, these solar tracking devices are following the sun's path and blazing a trail for other clean energy enthusiasts to follow."

The two photovoltaic panels, one measuring approximately 11 feet by 11 feet and the other 11 feet by 22 feet, provide energy totaling approximately 6 kilowatts and are helping to meet the power requirements of the town's Conservation and Waterways administrative offices on Lido Boulevard. One of the solar trackers rotates on a single axis, moving side to side as it tracks the sun. The second panel is a dual axis unit, rotating from side to side as well as pivoting up and down. This state-of-the-art technology maximizes the energy captured by the panels. The new panels boast an increased yield of energy (amount of energy captured from the sun) in the range of 27%-30% over traditional fixed-mount panels. Additionally, the panels can increase energy output by up to 50% during summer months over conventional stationary PV (photovoltaic) panels.

"I commend Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead for their ongoing commitment to promote clean and efficient energy on Long Island," said Long Island Power Authority Vice President of Environmental Affairs Michael J. Deering. "LIPA remains committed to working with our residents, local governments, businesses and community leaders to promote and invest in energy efficiency and renewable technologies through our nationally recognized solar, wind and Efficiency Long Island programs, which help to improve our environment and spur the clean energy economy."

The solar trackers are part of an array of renewable energy projects that the town has undertaken to address energy needs in an environmentally responsible manner. More importantly, however, the projects are serving a three-pronged role of research, demonstration and education focused on advancing mainstream alternate and renewable energy usage.

"Meeting energy needs in an environmentally friendly manner is important," stated Cullin. "At the same time, we are performing valuable research that will improve technology, we are demonstrating the practical potential of renewable energy for the general public, and we are educating young people on the importance of 'going green.'"

The solar trackers cost approximately $31,000 and have been funded through a $4.6 million United States Department of Energy (DOE) grant. Other initiatives being funded through the grant include a geothermal energy project that will be employed to address cooling and heating needs at the town's Conservation and Waterways facility, a 60 kilowatt solar field that will meet electrical demand at the town office, a solar canopy/carport charging station for electric cars, a light bulb exchange program for town residents, a comprehensive "clean and efficient" energy master plan for town facilities, retrofitting of efficient energy systems to town buildings and a solar energy installation at a town highway yard, among other priorities.

The current list of green energy initiatives funded through the DOE grant complement a host of other environmentally progressive projects at the energy park and throughout the town. The energy park is home to Long Island's only hydrogen vehicle fueling station, a one-of-a-kind solar and wind-powered shellfish nursery, Long Island's only self-reliant solar-powered government office, as well as three other photovoltaic energy systems at Conservation and Waterways offices.

Murray and other town officials noted that the town's host of renewable energy projects have been made possible as a result of strategic partnerships with its green energy partners. Those partners have provided grant funding, energy credits, technical expertise and volunteer work to facilitate the town's ecologically progressive agenda. What's more, labor involved in the solar tracker and many other green energy projects was performed by highly expert town personnel.

"I want to thank all of the town's green energy partners for their assistance on this and all of our renewable energy projects," concluded Murray. "As our solar trackers follow the path of the sun Hempstead Town will be leading the way to a 'greener and cleaner' planet."