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North Hempstead Dumps Port Landfill Solar Proposal

Town board votes 6-0 against continuation of a proposal to install solar panels at landfill site in Port Washington.

From right, North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and town attorney Elizabeth Dvorkin Botwin listen in at Town Hall, Jan. 14, 2014. (Credit: Rich Jacques)
From right, North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and town attorney Elizabeth Dvorkin Botwin listen in at Town Hall, Jan. 14, 2014. (Credit: Rich Jacques)
The Town of North Hempstead unanimously voted down Tuesday the continuation of a controversial plan to place solar panels on two landfills located off West Shore Road in Port Washington.

Despite proposed benefits such as renewable energy promotion and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, the project failed to move forward after heavy scrutiny from a contingent of Port Washington residents who grilled developers and town officials on details, potential risks and lack of public notice of the questionable plan which was introduced during Jon Kaiman's tenure as supervisor.

Facing a Jan. 31 deadline to apply for the program, a PSEG Long Island solar energy initiative which could have provided between $42,000 and $192,000 in annual revenue for a 20-year period, many questions were not answered, according to Bosworth.  

"If you are going to go forward with something as important as this, you need to have the time to look into it that makes all of us comfortable," said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth Tuesday.

For more than two hours, solar project representatives from TRC and California-based SunEdison responded to heavy criticism and concerns surrounding their plans to place thousands of solar panels atop the landfill, risking the safety of the sites which were cleaned up an capped more than 15 years ago at a huge expense.

An estimated $42 million was used to close one of the sites, according to Port Washington resident Rosemary Konatich, who spoke at the meeting.

"Keep that in mind how complex this is," Konatich warned.

See town officials speak on the issue here

SunEdison finances, operates and monitors solar energy solutions worldwide, ranging from some of the world’s largest solar deployments to residential rooftops, according to the company's website.

Representatives from SunEdison raised eyebrows with some of their responses to questions from residents.

Jeff Gorman, New York's regional sales manager with SunEdison, could not verify his firm's estimated revenue for the proposed deal. "I don't have the figures," he said.

SunEdison Project Development Manager Adam Wingard admitted he had never visited the landfill site in Port Washington, despite speaking at the meeting regarding site plans.

North Hampstead paid TRC, which provides engineering, permitting and transmission design services to support the development of renewable energy projects, at least $70,000 over a two to three year period for their work on the solar proposal, according to a TRC official. 

"I agree, the process was not a good process," said Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio of Port Washington.

Port Washington resident and attorney Jon Brooks prompted the town board to go into executive session following his question regarding an alleged multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against North Hempstead by the state of New York involving the landfill site.

After a brief executive session, the town immediately voted 6-0 against continuation of the solar energy project and closed the meeting.

Citing concerns with questions that were asked, the lack of information that was presented, a citizen's advisory board that she said was not properly consulted and possible mishaps surrounding the project, Bosworth made the motion for a yes or no vote regarding continuation of the project.

Bosworth said there is no question the town wants to be involved in renewable energy, but the time frame and the lack of public input led her to believe that this is not the time to go forward with the project.

"When we speak about having an open and transparent government, that's not government speak, that's not political speak, that's what I believe each and every member of this council believes in and what we will be committed to going forward," said Bosworth.
bob young January 15, 2014 at 08:17 AM
It is not the towns role to be involved in "renewable energy." These projects are not economically efficient and will cost both the taxpayer and rate payer more to subsidize these things. If and when they are economically competitive, they should stand on their own in the free market. It is bad enough that we waste billions on these crony projects at the federal level. Lets not start doing it locally. As for the so called greenhouse gas emissions, all human activity combined accounts for 3% of all CO2 emissions. I wish politicians, particularly democrats, will get off the shtick that they are saving the planet, when what they are really doing is sticking it to the taxpayer.
bob young January 15, 2014 at 08:18 AM
BTW, it was a very good thing to stop wasting money on this nonsense. I applaud the 6-0 vote to shut it down. I would have liked to have been at the meeting, if only I knew about it.
any January 15, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Renewable energy is critical to the future. Mr. Young's emissions comments are skewed and part of the standard GOP mantra that is funded by big oil and gas. Superstorm Sandy was a wakeup call for Long Island. The problem with this proposal is that SunEdison is a financial firm that buys and sells energy projects. They do not believe in the investment in community outreach or input and are just looking at revenue and their own bottom line. That doesn’t mean all renewable companies are the same. Understanding community concerns, talking to stakeholders and working to resolve issues is easy with communication. This was a good slap for the corporate entities to learn that financial formulas are not the only part to building a renewable energy society. People need to be included in the process. Companies like SunEdison bid on so many projects, they don't take the time to know the community which is blatantly obvious by the reps comments. My greater concern is that our new energy provider, PSEG LI didn’t do more with SunEdison to care for the communities they want to serve. Suffolk County should take notice since they just selected SunEdison for two projects.
bob young January 15, 2014 at 12:11 PM
Amy, since you seem to be employed by SunEd, arguing with you is futile.
bob young January 15, 2014 at 12:18 PM
Having said that, talking to rational people, let me make a few points. Having a Masters Degree in Atmospheric science from Cornell, probably qualifies me to speak intelligently on the concept of weather events, climate etc. "Super storm Sandy" was not an unprecedented event. LI had far more devastating storms in the 30's and 50's. Sandy was primarily a tidal event. A confluence of high tide. a slow moving storm, and a storm surge that was a bulls eye on NY harbor and western LI sound. We on LI pay the highest utility rates in the country, so when a company comes into town looking for rate and tax payer subsidies to help their bottom line, we need to send them on their way. As for your "GOP mantra" statement, I do not need talking points. In fact on this subject I make the talking points, which are factual. You on the other hand need your talking points from those that employ you and pay you to spread propaganda. If SunEd continues its assault on the rate payers of LI, Im sure I'll meet them head on at some point.
bob young January 15, 2014 at 08:52 PM
Cant stand these drive by anonymous postings from people like "any." They lob insults under the cloak of anonymity, and then drive away. Patch needs to confirm the real identifies of these imposters
Bob January 15, 2014 at 11:15 PM
98% of scientists agree that Climate Change is a serious and manmade problem. Each year that we delay addressing this increases the costs to be paid by our children and grandchildren in future decades. Oil companies, like tobacco companies before them, distort the facts so they can continue to sell products that harm or kill people. Hooray for unfettered capitalism.
Eric Kline January 16, 2014 at 06:33 AM
Cool! Great article if your in arizona, you can go solar <a href="http://summerwindsolar.com">residential solar panels</a> in arizona
bob young January 16, 2014 at 07:30 AM
What nobody ever addresses is the amount of land required to generate enough electricity to satisfy the population using renewable wind or solar. Its about 10 acres per megawatt hour. On a peak summer day, NYC needs about 14,000 megawatts of generation capacity. So to satisfy NYC with solar or wind, you'd need a solar or wind farm of 140,000 acres, and that assumes all assets are producing at maximum output. Additionally, where does the electricity come from when the sun goes down, and the wind stops blowing?
Bob January 16, 2014 at 08:25 AM
Bob Young - I didn't know believing in science makes me a Marxist. Don't tell Wall Street - they might fire me from my Capitalist job.
bob young January 16, 2014 at 08:51 AM
No Bob, you believe in a political point of view. Don't make believe that your politics equals science. If anything you strike me as a science denying climate alarmist.
Bob January 16, 2014 at 03:22 PM
I believe in science. I used to have 2 parties to choose from that agreed with this. Unfortunately, 1 party now believes the earth was created in 7 days only a few thousand years ago and evolution is a fiction. I think some of them probably still believe the earth is flat and the universe circles around the earth. That's not a group I want to vote for.
bob young January 16, 2014 at 04:05 PM
Bob, with all due respect, you sound incredibly ignorant on the science end of things. I highly doubt you have the vaguest notion of climate science, or for that matter biology, since you threw tobacco companies into the mix with companies that provide an essential product to your life, namely energy. It was intuitively obvious to me as a 5 year old that smoking was a disgusting and unhealthy thing to do. You've bought into the politics not the science. I challenge you to go a year without the comforts that the fossil fuel industry brings to you and your family. You strike me as an incredible hypocrite, without any grasp of the issues or facts. Finally, why did you bring political "parties" in to the discussion? Clearly because you are a democrat hack.
bob young January 16, 2014 at 04:20 PM
One more thing Bob! Your statement about how "1 party now believes that the earth was created in 7 days," epitomizes your ignorance. Next thing you'll be saying is that 1 party hates women. You are clearly nothing more than a democrat hack that parrots what your party tells you to repeat. BTW, do you have a last name, or are you that embarrassed? (rhetorical)
Bob January 16, 2014 at 10:17 PM
Bob Young says "Next thing you'll be saying is that 1 party hates women." Well then, how would you define this: A Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia thinks that spousal rape should not be a crime. His name is Richard Black, and he's currently a state senator. When Virginia voted to allow spouses to be prosecuted for rape, Black opposed it and questioned whether marital rape is even possible, saying "when they're living together, sleeping in the same bed, she's in a nightie, and so forth."
bob young January 16, 2014 at 10:30 PM
BTW, Bob! You give my name a bad name.
Port Citizen January 20, 2014 at 12:45 PM
A Bob V. Bob war now... Why is this now a political debate "just Bob"? Anyone want to have dialogue with Bob Young on the actual topic - how trying to tap solar energy can, or can not, be a successful venture for our area? Not an area of any expertise from me ... But I'm reading these comments because I'm obviously interested to gain more knowledge on the topic.

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