Southampton Launches Three-Pronged Energy Program

Announcing the launch of Tri-Energy at Town Hall Thursday afternoon.
Announcing the launch of Tri-Energy at Town Hall Thursday afternoon.

Southampton Town has just launched a new program designed to bring together three sustainable energy components to make it easier for residents to reduce their electricity use.

The new program, called Tri-Energy, merges two existing programs — Solarize Southampton and Long Island Green Homes energy audits — with a new program called “Peak Power Hour,” designed to provide a social reason to reduce energy consumption on hot days.

All three components are grouped together on a new page on the town’s website, online here.

The first component of Tri-Energy, the home energy audit, is one that many homeowners don’t take the time to take advantage of, said Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman at a press conference announcing the project Thursday afternoon.

The press conference was held near the main entrance of town hall, beside the Tri-Energy float the town entered in Southampton’s Fourth of July parade — a shed with solar panels on it.

Neil Lewis of Long Island Green Homes said that homeowners could save between $700 and $1,000 per year by taking advantage of the three programs.

“When you combine this with the solar and thermostat package, no one else is doing this across Long Island,” he said.

Residents can sign up for a home energy audit through the program online here.

The second piece, Solarize Southampton, was introduced by the town last year. It’s a program designed to offer bulk price discounts to homeowners who sign up for solar panels together.

Southampton-based solar firm GreenLogic has been selected as the supplier for the program for the second year running.

GreenLogic Energy Consultant Andrew Smith said his company uses “best-in-class equipment,” and is introducing new programs, including a division that takes on “orphan systems” — systems installed by solar firms that have gone out of business that other solar companies won’t service.

He added that GreenLogic also has a referral program, where both customers and prospective customers who find out their house isn’t a good site for solar panels can receive rebates for referring their neighbors and friends.

Residents can sign up for a free solar assessment online here.

The third component of Tri-Energy is perhaps the most unusual — it’s a form of social club organized around times of peak power demand.

Mr. Schneiderman explained that PSEG-Long Island must arrange to buy its power in advance based on the expected energy load on peak load days. This reserved electric capacity is part of the reason electric rates on Long Island are so high.

The new Peak Power Hour program allows residents to sign up for text message alerts a day before hot days on which PSEG-Long Island expects to reach peak demand.

On the next day, the town will organize recreational activities on beaches during the time of peak demand, asking residents to turn up their thermostats by two degrees before they leave home. They’re hoping through the program to show PSEG-Long Island that they won’t need to purchase as much power in the future to meet peak demand.

“We’ll have a social event at the beach, with refreshments and kite flying, but before you leave the house, raise the thermostat two degrees,” said Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone. “It will make a significant difference.”

To sign up for Peak Power Hour, text ‘South Fork’ to 646.267.5370.

“These three programs are stronger together,” said Mr. Schneiderman, as the politicians sweated in the hot sun and the solar panels above their heads absorbed the sunlight. “I sound like a convention speaker.”

“I’m with him,” joked State Assemblyman Fred Thiele.

“Nothing absorbs solar energy like these blue blazers, but we can’t get politicians to stop wearing them,” added Mr. Thiele. “The South Fork is a place we’re seeing the greatest growth in the use of energy. Southampton’s program puts all the tools together in one unified approach.”

Town Councilman John Bouvier, who serves as the liaison to the town’s Sustainability Committee, said the group is also working on other initiatives ranging from ground-based solar installations to to battery-operated lawn equipment.

“Get the audit,” said Councilwoman Julie Lofstad. “You don’t have to clean up your house first. And one little hour (at the beach) can save the community a lot of money.”

More information on all three programs is online here.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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