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Long Island's second-largest solar array goes online

Plans are to turn Tallgrass Golf Course in

Plans are to turn Tallgrass Golf Course in Shoreham, seen on Jan. 10, 2017, into a solar farm. Credit: Ed Betz

The latest wave of large-scale solar energy projects on Long Island got a formal kickoff late last month when a Duke Energy subsidiary announced the launch of a 24.9-megawatt array on the former Tallgrass Golf Course in Shoreham.

The project, developed by Invenergy and sold to Duke last year, is expected to produce enough energy to power up to 3,500 homes, developers said, while costing ratepayers about $177 million during its 20-year contract with LIPA. It’s been producing power since July.

The 150-acre project, and another on a nearby 60 acres, were both on property formerly owned by DeLalio Sod Farms. Both arrays were contested by some neighbors who were concerned about the impact of the long field of black panels on views and home values.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner, a longtime supporter, called the arrays “the most passive use of this property you could ever imagine.”  

Tax payments from the project are expected to reach up to $900,000 a year, she said, mostly for the Shoreham/Wading River school district but also the local library and fire departments.

The Invenergy array, called Shoreham Solar Commons, is Long Island’s second-largest, behind Brookhaven National Laboratory’s solar farm, but it won’t hold the title for long. LIPA has contracted for several more large solar arrays on farmland and other parcels of land in the Riverhead/Calverton area, including a 36-megawatt project that could be in operation by 2020, said Jim Parmalee, PSEG Long Island’s director of power resources and contract management.

He noted that also could soon be eclipsed, noting, “As the technology develops and with more land available upstate, you’d expect larger projects upstate in the future.”

A 20-megawatt project is also planned for Riverhead next year. 

Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology, a division of the North Carolina energy conglomerate, is also expected to expand its New York presence after purchasing its first array here, said Rob Caldwell, the company’s president.

“It’s a great market,” he said of Long Island and New York, noting the high demand and the relatively higher prices paid for energy, particularly green energy. “We’re looking for a bigger presence” in the state, he said.

Duke already has wind and solar projects in 22 states amounting to about 3,000 megawatts, he said.

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