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Going green in New Hyde Park

A green ribbon was cut Monday at a New Hyde Park facility to celebrate the unveiling of a $734,000 commercial solar-power system, the largest under The Long Island Power Authority's solar rebate program.

Piece Management Inc., a commercial renovation and construction company, worked with LIPA and contractor EmPower Solar to install a photovoltaic system that will help the company reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 92 tons during the year and reduce its electric expense by 75 percent, according to LIPA.

"It is not an easy decision to head down the road of green," said the company's president, Michael Sumersille. The primary reason for turning solar was to meet the demands of the company's clients, who are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. These consumers would prefer to partner with other environmentally friendly companies. Sumersille sees solar power as a way to reduce the company's carbon footprint while making it more competitive in its arena. "The benefits greatly outweigh the costs," Sumersille said.

The system can generate 117 kilowatts of power at any one time. LIPA provided a rebate of $237,563 through its Solar Entrepreneur Program. The cost may be further reduced by federal and state tax incentives.

The system, which is large enough to power about 10 homes, is made up of more than 360 photovoltaic modules on the roof and took a crew of 10 about five days to install. Each module, consisting of the solar panel and its mounting system, is 75 inches by 43 inches and weighs 100 pounds, according to EmPower Solar chief executive David Schieren.

"EmPower believes solar is key to energy future," he said. "This technology will be dominant in the 21st century."

The system converts sunlight into direct current power, which is then wired down to inverters placed with the company's walls, Schieren said. The inverters then convert the direct current into usable alternating current electricity, which feeds directly into the building's electrical system.

Power is not stored. It is either used immediately or sent back through the meter to the utility's supply grid. If the company generates more energy than it consumes, it gets credit from the utility under a system called new metering.

"LIPA was the first utility in the state to allow our commercial customers to net meter," said LIPA president and chief executive Kevin Law.

LIPA offers net metering as an incentive to cross over to solar power, which could reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels, Law said. More than 3,000 residential customers and a couple hundred commercial facilities are participating in the program.

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