Slow To Solar - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1825617

Slow To Solar

The Town of East Hampton has made pledges as far back as 2014 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and more recently declared that there is a “climate emergency.” In the past, it has also dubbed itself one of the greenest towns in the Northeast due to these types of pledges.

Sadly, this grand posturing has resulted in very little actually being done. As we approach the midpoint of this 2030 goal, the town produces more greenhouse gas emissions than it did in 2014. Moreover, the town has set itself an impossibly unrealistic goal: to offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. New York State has recently raised its target to 40 percent within this time frame, and the federal government just doubled its goal to 50 percent. Both are probably too optimistic, but our town’s 100 percent target is just a sign they don’t know what they are doing.

A major problem is that the town has not focused more on solar development. It is a great fit for our area and matches well with our town’s peak demand needs on summer weekends. Given significant technology improvement, it is the low-cost method for renewable electricity generation.

East Hampton Town-owned buildings and other open land areas might generate at least 2 to 3 megawatts of solar. What has the town done in this area? Next to nothing. It will finally be finishing a 75 kilowatt project at the Parks Department this month that is roughly the equivalent of a dozen residential homes. It claims this will save the town $10,000 a year. If this is true, why hasn’t it installed much more and saved $100,000s?

I wish I could say the town’s only misstep has been in the solar arena, but areas like LED streetlights are another obvious failure. The town is at least finally thinking about doing something here, but a recent survey shows only 100 out of 800 lights have been upgraded so far. Many cities across the country took this simple step six or seven years ago, and Southampton completed their own upgrade three years ago. Analysis shows the town would save $50,000 a year by simply changing light bulbs. Why hasn’t this been done already?

The worst part is that the town doesn’t seem to understand that if it did spend on solar projects, on LEDs, on EVs, heat pump upgrades and other efficiency steps, they would actually save taxpayers’ money in the long run. These things all pay for themselves given the technology today.

Is that really so hard for the people in the administration of our town to understand? Hopefully, whoever wins the upcoming election will take this issue much more seriously.

Brad Brooks