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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 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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