Southampton and East Hampton towns and villages on the South Fork are banding together for a new state initiative called “Solarize South Fork,” which will enable homeowners to band together to receive bulk discounts on solar panel installations.
State Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced last week that the South Fork is launching one of 26 campaigns across the state through a program called “Reforming the Energy Vision,” allowing homeowners to save up to 20 percent when they buy solar panels through contractors working with the towns.
The South Fork program will be available later this year to residents in both towns and the villages of Southampton, Sag Harbor and East Hampton.
The towns have received $5,000 each in grant money to publicize the program, but the strict timeline required by the grant funding has given them pause in their plans to begin the outreach.
East Hampton Natural Resources Director Kim Shaw told the town board two weeks ago that the town will have six to nine months to reach out to the community and sign up residents for the program, and she thinks it would be best to begin that outreach in the fall.
“I think it’s an aggressive timeline, and it’s the wrong time of year,” she said. “I want to push it back to the fall. Local people are working extremely hard [at this time of year].”
Ms. Shaw said the town and local non-profits will be signing agreements with contractors to install the panels.
She said each town hopes to sign up at least 25 homeowners. Southampton Municipal Works Director Christine Fetten is coordinating the effort in Southampton Town.
“Obviously, I think promoting solar is important,” said Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell at the April 21 work session. “If you feel we need to delay a bit in order to do it right, that’s fine.”