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Planned conversion at rink part of Huntington green energy plan

Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci says the Dix Hills

Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci says the Dix Hills Ice Rink, seen on Wednesday, consumes the most energy out of all Huntington municipal buildings. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Town of Huntington is lighting a path to a greener future and lower costs by using renewable energy, including a planned conversion at the town ice rink.

Geothermal technology is being studied to be used to power the Dix Hills Ice Rink and the proposed James D. Conte Center in Huntington Station, which also is being studied for solar power installation.

Plans for a microgrid to more reliably power such buildings as Town Hall, Huntington Hospital and other nearby buildings will also be moving forward in 2021.

"We’re helping preserve the environment for future generations and at the same time saving taxpayers money," town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said.

Funding to consider and design the projects comes from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Clean Energy Communities Program. A $108,000 design and feasibility study, which is also being funded in part by the New York Power Authority, is underway.

Lupinacci said the ice rink, which also has an Olympic-size pool on its grounds, is the highest energy consuming town facility — costing the town $684,000 annually.

He said once the geothermal system is up and running at the ice rink, the estimated annual savings will be $348,000.

Town officials did not have an estimated final cost of a geothermal system for the ice rink citing variables such as grants and rebates. If approved to be completed, a request for proposals would be issued. The cost of a geothermal system for the Conte Center is about $1.7 million before rebates and grants.

Geothermal systems use the earth’s stable temperatures hundreds of feet underground to enable efficient heating and cooling equipment, replacing common oil- or gas-fueled boilers. Powered by electrical pumps and condensers, the systems can be 30% to 50% more efficient than fossil-fuel based heaters or central air-conditioning systems, with zero emissions.

Gordian Raacke, executive director for Renewable Energy Long Island, a not-for-profit that promotes clean, sustainable energy use and generation on Long Island and is committed to accelerating the transition to a 100% renewable energy economy, said while the upfront costs of geothermal systems are higher, it's a solid long-term investment.

"It makes sense from a financial perspective as well an environmental perspective because geothermal systems operate much more efficiently than conventional systems and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution," Raacke said. "The town is off to a good start."

The town also is moving ahead with a plan to build a $37 million microgrid that would power Town Hall, the senior center next door, the wastewater treatment plant, The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington Hospital and the Huntington YMCA, Lupinacci said.

The town, along with several other Long Island municipalities, in 2015 received a $100,000 state grant to study the feasibility of building a mini-electric grid as part of stage one of a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority program.

In stage two, town officials received $1 million to prepare a detailed engineering, financing and commercial plan for the construction, operation and maintenance of such a grid.

Lupinacci said stage three was discontinued because of state budget cuts. So, town officials, with support from the other microgrid participants, established a local development corporation to finance, develop, own and operate the microgrid using federal grants.

Town board members voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to approve applying for and receiving funds for the microgrid project under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program.

Going green

  • Geothermal systems for the Dix Hills Ice Rink and James D. Conte Center planned

  • Creation of a micropower grid

  • Retrofitting 973 lighting fixtures in town hall and 721 lighting fixtures in Flanagan Senior Center with LEDs and controls as needed

  • Conduct a survey at town hall and the senior center to address any HVAC systems issues

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