Hempstead Unveils "Solar Field of Dreams" 60K PV System, Provides Clean Energy, Cuts Electric Costs

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilwoman Angie Cullin today unveiled an enormous 60-kilowatt solar field at the town Conservation and Waterways administrative offices in Point Lookout, a project the town is calling a "solar field of dreams." Also present at the unveiling were Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, representatives from LIPA, the Point Lookout Civic Association, the Lido Beach Civic Association, New York Institute of Technology, Wilke Engineering, Operation SPLASH and the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition.

"Just as Ray Kinsella, the main character in the movie 'Field of Dreams,' remained faithful to a dream that drew upon the best of our past to realize the promise of our future, Hempstead Town is preserving our beautiful seaside environment by employing cutting edge solar energy technology," said Murray. "What's more, this 'solar field of dreams' affirms our commitment to utilizing renewable energy while helping the town lower its electrical costs."

Impressive in scale, the solar field is larger than the infield at a major league baseball stadium. In fact, 260 solar panels, each about 5 feet by 2 and � feet, are mounted in a field that measures 160 feet by 60 feet. The solar "field of dreams" is located at the town's Conservation and Waterways Renewable Energy Park in Point Lookout. The Conservation and Waterways administration building, which will draw upon the solar field to meet its energy needs, already boasts a 10K, roof-mounted photovoltaic energy system. These two projects will be accompanied by a geothermal system, which will address heating and cooling needs at the administration building. The stated goal of the town is to reach total self-sufficiency with renewable energy systems at the Conservation and Waterways facility, leaving a 'zero carbon footprint.'

"This is a great day for the town and for Long Island," said Cullin. "This solar field is helping us to be more energy efficient, while at the same time cutting costs."

One of the technologies found on each of the 260 panels are microinverters, which allow each unit to be controlled and monitored individually, rather than relying on a single inverter to power the entire field. This means that if one solar panel has a technical fault, workers can pinpoint the error without it affecting the entire field, thus increasing efficiency and helping to save money.

The town used federal stimulus funds to pay for the estimated $240,000 worth of equipment for the solar field. The town has used grant funding for other green technology projects, including two solar trackers (panels which follow the path of the sun), a solar-powered carport, and a geothermal energy project that will address heating and cooling needs at the town Conservation and Waterways facility. A wind- and solar-powered shellfish nursery, a self-reliant solar-powered government office, and a hydrogen vehicle fueling station are renewable energy features that already have been put in place with the benefit of other grant funding.

The town has aggressively pursued grant funding for its renewable energy projects, helping to mitigate the impact on taxpayers. This type of proactive approach to funding helps the town to pursue innovative improvements while it crafts a 2012 tax-freeze budget. Additionally, the town is advancing its goals of helping to demonstrate the benefits of green technologies, educating the public on those benefits, and to further the research and development of such initiatives in the future.

"LIPA is proud of its ongoing partnership with Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead for her plan to promote clean and renewable energy," said LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael D. Hervey. "This project reinforces LIPA's commitment to working with government leaders like Supervisor Murray, to help protect the environment and our energy future while stimulating the local economy through the creation of clean energy jobs."

"The solar installation dedicated today continues to demonstrate the town's commitment to alternative energy and to educating its constituents," said Greg Banhazl, Director of Business Development with the New York Institute of Technology. "With its solar decathlon energy home located here, New York Institute of Technology is delighted to be part of this exemplary energy park. Our students are proud of their innovative contribution to our sustainable environment."

"The Town of Hempstead is a pioneer in researching alternative energies for the betterment of our town and our residents," said Rob Weltner, President of Operation SPLASH. "We fully support the efforts of Supervisor Murray and the town."

"This 'solar field of dreams' will help us work toward a brighter future, one in which the sun replaces taxpayer dollars in providing electricity for the town," said Murray. "Here in the town, we are proud to save green by going green!"