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8 LIPA substations already maxed out for renewable energy

Even as New York State pushes utilities to draw a greater percentage of their energy from renewable resources such as solar power, LIPA is facing technical limitations that have ruled out large-scale green-energy sources completely in eight local service areas.

In a request for proposals for renewable energy sources that PSEG Long Island is reviewing, an appendix lists the eight so-called substations that can no longer accommodate any more generation at all. A year ago, only a single substation was maxed out.

The eight substations that can no longer accept any new sources of generation, green or otherwise, are in Central Islip south of Long Island Expressway, one near MacArthur Airport in Islip, one near Pinelawn Cemetery, the Wildwood substation in Wading River, Edwards Avenue in Calverton, north of Sunrise Highway in Moriches, one at William Floyd Parkway at the Long Island Expressway in Shirley, and Buell Lane in East Hampton.

In addition, the document lists 10 substations that are already more than half maxed out and can only accommodate 4 megawatts more of generation. Another list of 28 substations can accommodate between 4 and 7 megawatts of new power. The largest list of 103 can accommodate between 7 and 10 megawatts.

Substations, which step down high-voltage power plants to lower voltages used in homes and businesses, can accommodate 10 megawatts of so-called remotely located energy sources. The Long Island Power Authority is seeking 210 megawatts of renewable energy in a bid request released in December. Bidders have until June 1 to respond.

LIPA, which owns the Long Island electric grid, currently gets less than 5 percent of its energy from renewable resources. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has set the state target at 50 percent by 2030. Reaching the goal on Long Island could be more challenging as regional pockets begin to max out their ability to accommodate new energy.

For those substation territories that can no longer accommodate any large-scale commercial generation, PSEG says the restrictions, for now, will not limit considerably smaller residential solar systems on rooftops.

“Right now based on current interconnection guidelines we are not restricting residential solar” in those areas, said PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir. Asked when that might happen, Weir said the matter was “being studied.”

A year ago, PSEG said only a single substation had been maxed out. That substation, on Edwards Avenue in Calverton, hit the maximum level when developer sPower built a 9.5- megawatt solar farm on the same road. Connection of that system led other developers to forgo planned solar projects in the area, including at big-box retailers on nearby Route 58 in Riverhead.

Weir said the change from just a year ago resulted from a “significant increase” in interconnection applications for the LIPA solar program known as a feed-in tariff, which pays developers a set fee for energy under long-term contracts,

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