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Shelter Island OKs lease to build solar energy farm

Shelter Island Town Hall. (July 26, 2012)

Shelter Island Town Hall. (July 26, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

Shelter Island wants to see a solar energy farm constructed at its recycling center on Bowditch Lane, and has offered a 20-year lease to a company that would put up solar panels covering about 4 acres at the town-owned site.

But, whether it gets built will not be determined until next year, depending on a review by the Long Island Power Authority and the number of firms seeking contracts under a special LIPA solar energy program.

The actual rent paid to Shelter Island must still be negotiated, and would be based on how much LIPA would pay for the electricity produced. LIPA is not expected to make that decision for several months.

The town board voted 5-0 on Friday to authorize Massachusetts-based American Capital Energy Inc. to design a photovoltaic generating system and to seek approval from LIPA to take part in its Feed In Tariff Program.

Also known as the Clean Solar Initiative, it is the second phase of a program first approved by LIPA in 2012, under which the utility guarantees payment rates for 20 years to solar power producers who meet a number of technical criteria.

LIPA plans to review all projects submitted to it before making any decision on which programs will be selected to take part in the program, and will select bids based on the cost of the power produced.

LIPA spokesman Mark Gross said the project would likely be part of LIPA's second round of its Clean Solar Initiative, expected to be voted on by the LIPA Board at its next meeting Oct. 3.

If the project is approved, construction could be completed in less than a year, town officials said.

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