Calculating the Environmental Benefits of Solar Power − Murray Unveils 4 New Solar Powered Town Facilities in One Day

Holding a solar powered calculator, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray “added” four new town facilities to her municipality’s impressive inventory of offices and buildings that are partially powered by solar energy systems. “Calculating” the environmental benefits of photovoltaic power at an unveiling ceremony, Murray was joined by Councilwoman Angie Cullin, Councilman Gary Hudes, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, as well as State Senator Charles Fuschillo, who secured state grant funding for 3 of the solar installations and an upcoming sun-powered street lighting project.

“We’re ‘adding’ so many new solar projects to the town’s renewable energy inventory, it’s getting difficult to ‘calculate’ the extent of our positive impact on the environment,” stated Murray. “Seriously, projects like those which we are unveiling today are reducing our carbon footprint on the planet and conserving natural resources.  What’s more, they are saving taxpayers’ money by reducing energy costs.  I want to thank Senator Charles Fuschillo for securing the grant funding to make these planet-friendly initiatives possible.”

The new solar power projects include a “solar tracker” system at Seamans Neck Park which energizes offices and a garage, a photovoltaic system at the Merrick Senior Center that helps meet the facility’s energy needs, a unique solar panel system that is set up as an energy producing decorative canopy at Newbridge Road Park and a very large array of photovoltaic panels at the Roosevelt Highway yard. These new projects bring the total of Hempstead Town’s solar energy projects to fifteen.

“Parks throughout our town, a local senior center and a highway yard are all demonstrating that government can do its job while being kind to our planet,” said Hudes.

The total grant funding for the Seamans Neck Park Project, the Newbridge Road Park installation and the Merrick Senior Center solar panels is approximately $208,000. These three projects and a $24,000 solar energy parking field lighting project to be undertaken in the near future are all funded through state grant monies provided by Fuschillo. The Roosevelt Highway Yard project benefited from a $250,000 grant from the Federal Department of Energy.

“Using solar energy benefits both the environment and residents.  This technology allows the Town to use a clean, renewable energy source to generate power while lowering its utility costs and saving taxpayer dollars.  I am pleased to have secured state funding for these projects, and help the Town of Hempstead continue its investment in clean energy,” said Senator Fuschillo.

“The annual savings to taxpayers from these solar energy projects total $50,000,” said Murray. “We do these projects because they are good for the planet, but an added bonus is that they are good for taxpayers’ wallets.”

The “solar trackers” at Seamans Neck Park include three units that pivot and follow the sun’s path to maximize energy efficiency. The 11-kilowatt system provides energy to offices and a garage. The pivoting or “tracking” feature results in a 40% gain in energy output over traditional solar panels, making this 11-kilowatt system comparable in output to a 15-kilowatt stationary mounted solar panel system.

The unique and decorative 11-kilowatt solar canopy at Newbridge Road Park actually allows sun to filter through the canopy, and the undersides of the panels actually absorb reflected light in addition to the photovoltaic cells which face the sky. These panels are called bi-facial solar panels. The Merrick Senior Center features conventional stationary mounted photovoltaic panels, furnishing 11-kilowatts of energy.  Finally, the Roosevelt Highway Yard boasts a very large 52-kilowatt solar panel system that helps meet the energy needs of the highway garage/shop. In total, the effective power rating of the new systems total almost 90 kilowatts.

Although the solar panels that the town has installed have been funded through grants, typical solar energy systems have cost payback periods of between 5 and 7 years. To illustrate the amount of energy generated by the new 90 kilowatts in solar energy output, a typical home could meet its energy needs with a 10-kilowatt solar power system. In total, Town of Hempstead solar energy systems comprise over 200 kilowatts in power.

“Hempstead Town is leading the way in providing ‘clean and green’ energy,” stated Cullin.

Murray indicated that the town’s partnership with the state and federal government has reduced the town’s reliance on local energy providers, decreased the township’s carbon footprint and is demonstrating to neighbors that they can also utilize solar energy and other “renewables” to meet their home energy needs.

“’Calculating’ the benefits of solar energy systems is impossible, because they are not just measured in dollars and cents or units of energy,” concluded Murray. “The positive impact on our environment and the legacy that we will leave to our children ‘adds up’ to a bright future.”