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30 on LI awarded $7.8 million in energy grants

Kellenberg Memorial High School is getting $944,755 to install a solar thermal heating system. The Amagansett Fire District is getting $289,874 to put in two photovoltaic systems and a wind turbine. And the Town of Huntington is getting $38,250 to install an electric vehicle charging station.

The grants were among 30 awards to LI nonprofits and municipalities totaling $7.8 million funded by the federal stimulus program in the second, $40-million round of energy grants announced by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Monday.

The state estimates that the energy efficiency, clean fleet and renewable energy projects will reduce operating costs by $13.5 million annually and repay the investment in under seven years.

The projects, which were competitively selected through the State Energy Program, include installation of lighting and lighting controls, heating, cooling and controls, building envelope, photovoltaic systems, high-efficiency biomass boilers, solar thermal, small wind generators and alternative refueling stations and vehicles.

Clean energy and conservation funding have been a major element of the stimulus program.

At Kellenberg, a Catholic high school in Uniondale, an array of 100 solar collector panels on the roof will use sunshine to heat water contained in evacuated tubes, which will be used to heat the building during cooler months. During the summer, that heat will be used in high-tech "absorptive chiller" equipment to power air conditioning, while in fall and spring it will be used to help heat water used at the high school.

Kellenberg has already done several energy efficiency upgrades, including insulation, lighting upgrades, and has already got a pilot project in place for the solar thermal heating system, explained Brother Gary Eck, a teacher who has overseen the energy project.

The pilot is creating auxiliary hot water for the school kitchen. "I wouldn't be surprised if we're pulling down 150-degree water today," he said. "It can be the dead of winter and as long as we have bright sun, we're making really hot water."

In the Town of Huntington, spokesman A.J. Carter said several agencies and officials have collaborated on a project that will install a solar-powered charging station for as many as five electric commuter vehicles at the Huntington train station.

Electric vehicles have been criticized for being impractical because they travel a relatively short distance before running out of fuel. But a station car, which is parked all day and used for errands around town on the weekends, is "an ideal use" of this technology, Carter said. Details about how cars will be chosen or what they will pay have yet to be worked out, he said.

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