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Second solar energy farm eyed for Shoreham, even as residents seek halt to a smaller project

Shoreham residents already battling a 60-acre solar-power array planned for their neighborhood are facing the prospect of an even larger one on an adjacent parcel.

Invenergy, a Chicago-based green-energy developer, confirmed that it is proposing a 25-megawatt solar farm in response to the Long Island Power Authority's renewable energy request for proposals. That's more than twice as large as a 9.5-megawatt solar array that is planned for the 60-acre parcel on what is now a sod farm -- a proposal that has evoked the ire of nearby residents.

"Invenergy has submitted a proposal for a 25-megawatt solar project to LIPA in response to its request for proposals," said Invenergy spokeswoman Alissa Krinksy. "We are awaiting feedback on that proposal." LIPA could announce winning bids at a trustees meeting Wednesday.

Krinsky declined to say where the solar array would be located, but people with knowledge of the project say it is planned for the Tallgrass Golf Course, which is directly south of the original proposed sod-farm solar array. Both parcels are owned by DeLalio Sod Farms, whose officials didn't return a call seeking comment.

The Invenergy project is expected to be one of a dozen solar projects LIPA could award long-term contracts to as part of its 2012 green-energy bid request. The projects would put hundreds of thousands of solar panels on large land parcels from Kings Park to Manorville. LIPA is expected to reject a 210-megawatt, offshore wind farm proposed for 30 miles from Montauk, largely for economic reasons, several sources said.

Invenergy has approached the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency about the project, said town spokesman Jack Krieger, but hasn't filed applications for grants or permits.

Fred Eisenbud, an attorney for Shoreham residents who are suing LIPA, PSEG Long Island, Brookhaven Town and the solar developer over the sod-farm project, said the golf course plan, if true, would evoke "utter disbelief."

"Everyone is going to be outraged and shocked and I'm sure they will be unified in their opposition to the project," he said. "It would completely change the character of the community, which should never be done without a thorough environmental study."

Meanwhile, LIPA trustee Marc Alessi, who has tangled with the company over his opposition to the sod-farm solar array, announced Tuesday that he is stepping down from the LIPA board by year's end. In a note to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who appointed him, Alessi cited a busy work schedule next year. Alessi said the decision is unrelated to his vocal opposition to the original Shoreham solar project.

Another project submitted to LIPA sought to put up to 60 megawatts of solar power at the East Hampton Airport. East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the size of the project had to be scaled back to only 15 megawatts because of town restrictions on removing trees.

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