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Long Island

LIPA rebates fuel wide solar installation

One of Long Island’s largest solar-energy installations, encompassing

One of Long Island’s largest solar-energy installations, encompassing 45 separate solar-energy systems, has been completed with the help of $2.1 million in LIPA rebates. The systems were built by EmPower Solar for Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, an nonprofit that offers community living for disabled people in Nassau and Suffolk. (Aug. 25, 2010) Photo Credit: Mark Harrington

One of Long Island's largest solar-energy installations, encompassing 45 separate photovoltaic systems, was completed recently with the help of $2.1 million in LIPA rebates.

The systems were built by EmPower Solar, an Island Park company, for Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, a not-for-profit that provides community living for disabled people in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The Long Island Power Authority said the systems represent one of the region's largest investments in renewable energy, and that it has funded through rebates. The 45 combined systems produce 800 kilowatts of energy, and include a 124-kilowatt system, the largest LIPA has ever rebated, the authority said.

LIPA typically provides rebates of $1.75 per watt to most residential customers, which generally covers the cost of about one-third of systems. The $2.1 million indicates a total system cost of about $6 million, though the groups involved didn't release a figure.

EmPower Solar installed the systems at Family Residences' four commercial and 41 residential properties across Long Island, including its Old Bethpage headquarters.

The systems varied from 2 kilowatts on homes to the 124-kilowatt system on the Old Bethpage facility. The systems are expected to reduce the not-for-profit group's energy expenses by 27 percent.

David Schieren, chief executive of EmPower, said the size and scope of the project "proves that solar is ready for prime time." Projects like it, he said, "will make solar the dominant energy technology of the 21st century."

The project earlier this month won a Photovoltaic Projects of Distinction Award given by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Solar Electric Power Association in Philadelphia.

Michael Hervey, LIPA's chief operating officer, said the project "demonstrates how creative thinking and private/public partnerships can achieve substantial cost savings and greater efficiencies," among other benefits.

LIPA rebates have funded 4,196 solar systems since 2000, according to the authority, giving ratepayers a total of $105 million. The rebate program was so popular last year that it ran out of funds twice, requiring state and federal funding to replenish it.

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