The Big Picture - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2245237

The Big Picture

April is Earth Month, a reminder that we humans need to keep protecting our planetary home. A good local focus is bringing clean energy online on Long Island to replace fossil fuels.

Offshore wind is Long Island’s clean energy superpower. South Fork Wind is now fully operational, generating clean electricity for about 70,000 Long Island homes. Happily, more offshore wind developments are in the works.

Now we need to add battery storage to ensure the reliability of wind energy as it scales up.

Utility-scale battery storage is already succeeding in Texas and California, but battery fires have slowed local approvals of these installations. The Town of Southampton’s moratorium on construction of battery energy storage systems (BESS) expires in August. Hopefully, by that time, the town will approve a planned facility in Hampton Bays and can move ahead with increased assurances of how to safely manage this new piece of clean energy infrastructure.

Speaking of infrastructure, did you know that National Grid’s new rate hike of $30 per month is not for increased fuel costs but for building new pipelines, compressor stations and the like? Why saddle ratepayers with those long-term sunk costs, when they will become stranded assets as the state transitions to clean energy over the coming decades?

The NY HEAT Act, which, hopefully, becomes law, is not a ban on gas, as fossil fuel companies would have you believe, but a plan to manage its long-term phaseout. The bill will remove the perverse incentives that currently grant subsidies for gas expansion, and instead create new incentives for utilities to find communitywide clean energy solutions from geothermal energy, microgrids and the like. The bill also would save ratepayers money by eliminating the subsidies that now exist for extending gas service.

Earth Day is about the big picture, long term. Taking manageable steps, we can solve problems, meet challenges and find the resources to make the transition to a clean energy future.

Governor Kathy Hochul should take advantage of the symbolism and make sure we get the full NY HEAT Act and other climate legislation into the state’s budget. New York occupies a small part of the Earth, and Long Island even smaller, but we can help lead our country and the world to a healthy climate and a hopeful future.

Kathleen Boziwick

Sag Harbor