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Company proposing big infusion of wind, solar energy for LI

Undated photo of The Grand Ridge Energy Facility

Undated photo of The Grand Ridge Energy Facility in LaSalle County, Ill. A Chicago green-energy developer, Invenergy, is proposing the largest infusion of renewable power yet for Long Island, a mix of wind and solar sources in disparate locations as far away as North Carolina and West Virginia. Photo Credit: Invenergy

A Chicago green-energy developer is proposing the largest infusion of renewable power yet for Long Island, a mix of wind and solar sources in disparate locations as far away as North Carolina and West Virginia.

Invenergy, which already has LIPA approval for a large commercial solar array in Shoreham, is asking to bring wind and solar energy produced on 55,000 acres of land hundreds of miles away. Those energy farms would connect to the LIPA grid through a partnership with another energy company that is proposing a new undersea cable to Long Island from New Jersey. The project, which would be subject to LIPA selection and approval, is proposed to be in service by 2020.

Craig Gordon, vice president of regulatory affairs for Invenergy, said the project would bring 500 megawatts of green energy to the Island, enough, he said, to power 500,000 homes — nearly half of LIPA’s 1.1 million customers.

Invenergy also plans to bring the green power at a low price, he said, noting that development costs of energy farms in the remote areas of North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania are cheaper. The projects would take advantage of existing federal subsidies for green energy to help defray costs, Gordon said.

Invenergy and other developers have met stiff resistance to their Long Island projects from homeowners and some environmental activists who say they don’t belong in neighborhoods, on farms or in woodlands.

Invenergy proposes a 24.9 megawatt solar farm in Shoreham, on the Tallgrass Golf Course. It received a contract from LIPA to build the solar farm, but is awaiting approval from state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Gordon said.

The proposed green-energy project, called Clean Energy Link, would consist of 22,000 acres of wind and solar energy in Ohio, more than 15,000 acres of wind energy in West Virginia, an 18,000-acre wind farm in Pennsylvania, and a 400-acre solar farm in North Carolina. The maximum capacity of the sources would be 701 megawatts, but Invenergy would guarantee 500 megawatts to LIPA through an undersea cable.

That cable would be the Poseidon project that had previously been proposed for LIPA. A representative for cable-developer Anbaric Transmission confirmed the move, and noted the cable would be “repurposed” for clean energy.

Both Invenergy and Anbarac say while the proposal is considerably larger than LIPA and PSEG Long Island requested in their recent 210-megawatt bid request for clean energy, it will be needed to help LIPA meet Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal for the state to derive 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

The projects would feed their power through a mid-Atlantic power grid known as PJM. The undersea cable would tie into the LIPA grid on the South Shore and make its way through LIPA right of ways to a converter station on Ruland Road in Melville. Gordon of Invenergy said that site will be around 3.5 acres and the building will be a net-zero energy user.

Big green energy projects already have been proposed for the LIPA bid request. National Grid and NextEra have proposed the largest solar farm on Long Island near the site of the former Shoreham nuclear power plant on land owned by National Grid. The Town of Brookhaven is expected to vote in coming days on a proposal that would ban the clearing of trees for green-energy projects and reward those on rooftops and parking lots.

Gordon said the Clean Energy Link is designed to avoid those conflicts. “We’re not going to turn Long Island into a giant wind farm,” he said.

The company is expected to appear Monday with local political leaders and environmental advocates to unveil the project.

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