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Apr 12, 2019 4:44 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Questions Arise About Pitch To Employ Emergency Generators To Ease Demand In Summer

Apr 16, 2019 1:47 PM

A company contracted by PSEG-Long Island to reduce electricity demand on the South Fork has asked East Hampton Town to use emergency generators at various municipal facilities during peak periods of use this coming summer to ease the draw on the utility’s existing power supplies.

But renewable energy advocates and some residents and officials have raised concerns about the advisability of the approach until more is known about the efficiency and cleanliness of the generators the town uses.

“We’re just swapping one carbon source for another,” East Hampton Town Councilman Jeff Bragman said at a Town Board work session on Tuesday, April 9. “And I would question whether we are ready to sign on to this until we know more about what our [carbon dioxide] emissions are compared to those generators, and what the health impacts are.”

Mr. Bragman said that residents of Wainscott have raised concerns to him about the use of a diesel generator at the East Hampton Town Police Department headquarters in the hamlet.

He also said the program appears to just be a ploy by a subcontractor, Applied Energy Group, to avoid penalties in a contract with PSEG for failing to meet power reduction goals.

But other board members said they would support the town participating in the program in the short term, while the region awaits the availability of more renewable energy sources—most significantly, the South Fork Wind Farm, which is expected to come into service in 2022. The company has asked for the town to sign a four-year commitment to let it dictate when the generators are turned on.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said that she saw the participation by the town as a way to perhaps avoid PSEG having to activate diesel-power “peaker plant” generators that are noisy, belch smoke and fumes when they are fired up, and give off much more carbon dioxide than the mostly natural gas-powered generators the town has at its facilities.

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the program was “not perfect” but that she was in favor of the town agreeing to participate as a short-term option. She nodded to the concerns of Wainscott residents and suggested the town first do an accounting of the types of generators that would be employed.

Southampton Town officials said that AEG has not made a formal proposal to them yet, but Ms. Overby said that Stony Brook Southampton Hospital has agreed to participate, using its emergency generators.

In 2016, AEG inked a contract with PSEG to spearhead an effort to curtail growth in peak demand for electricity on the East End, particularly in what is known as the “load pocket” on the South Fork.

The program the company has employed, called South Fork Peak Savers, has focused on convincing residents of the area to turn to more energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances—like LEDs, variable-speed pool pumps and programmable thermostats that the company can control to reduce air conditioning use at times of high demand.

But the company apparently has not met the reduction targets called for in its contract and faces contractual penalties.

Lynn Arthur, a renewable energy advocate and member of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee, said that Southampton Town staff had determined the program was not advisable, and that relying on the modern natural gas-fired generators that PSEG has stationed on the South Fork in recent summers would be the cleanest and most efficient way to generate power at times of high demand.

“The question is: Are these emergency generators cleaner and more efficient?” she said. “PSEG has temporary generators they bring in already that are made by NextEra, that are all natural gas. But that doesn’t help AEG meet their contract.”

AEG has offered to compensate East Hampton about $200,000 to employ its generators over the next four summers to trim power demand when demand spikes, usually hot late afternoons in summer. An AEG representative told the board last month that there were just four days last summer when demands reached peak supply capability and emergency generator use kicked in.

Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc suggested that the money from the program could be used toward new renewable energy systems at town facilities, to achieve real reductions in fossil-fuel-generated power demand.

“And I do believe that our generators are more efficient than the generators that PSEG would be using, so we would be reducing carbon emissions,” he said. “This is a transition period, between now and offshore wind projects that will take that dirty energy off the grid.”

He added, “It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s an interim step that I believe is a positive step.”

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So EH is proposing a gas leaf powered blower ban and also considering generators to offset the energy supply?? If diesel fumes are worse than gas fumes, well than where is the logic in this regarding the concern for the environment?? If EH bans the gas powered blowers in the summer during peak energy season , they will need these diesel generators indefinitely. Again where is the logic in creating more need for energy only to offset it with something worse??

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By toes in the water (884), southampton on Apr 23, 19 7:00 AM