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Hempstead gets two new solar panels

Town of Hempstead leaders revealed two new solar panels Monday that capture more sunshine than traditional panels do, another step in the town’s effort to reduce both its electric bill and its reliance on fossil fuel.

Officials showcased the pair of solar trackers — stand-alone panels that continuously pivot toward the sun — during a presentation at the town’s conservation and waterways facility on Lido Boulevard in Point Lookout. The trackers, installed on the ground in an open area near the building, are the newest additions to Hempstead’s program aimed at increasing its energy independence.

“We’re excited to have them,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said of the trackers, which were purchased for $31,000, a sum taken from $4.6 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants the town is using to fund its energy initiative. “We have an opportunity in the town to be a real leader to pursue green energy.”

The trackers — one about 11-by-11 feet and the other, 11-by-22 feet — can generate as much as 6 kilowatts for the conservation/waterways facility. Because they shift to follow the sun as it moves across the sky, they can capture more solar energy than stationary panels can.

The town already has hundreds of stationary solar panels on the roofs of the conservation and waterways building and at Town Hall. Adding the two new panels to its alternative energy program has increased the amount the town is saving on electricity costs to 50 percent, Murray said.

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