Town opts out of renewable energy initiative

Southold Town Board members were puzzled to learn Tuesday that the town has spent roughly $50,000 over the past five years to participate in a renewable energy initiative program that expired in 2009.

The surcharge, which breaks down to roughly $10,000 annually, appears on the town’s electric bill to support LIPA’s Community Energy Program, which was intended to encourage the company to purchase energy from renewable sources. 

In 2004, the Town Board enrolled in the program, which provided incentives to municipalities to use green energy materials.

In late 2008, however, the town received a letter from LIPA stating that the initiatives would no longer be available as of Jan. 1 2009, but the company would “look forward to [the town’s] continued support” of the program, said Jeff Standish, the Southold director of public works.

The town never opted out, Mr. Standish told board members Tuesday morning.

“So, the program ended but they still charged us for the program?” asked Councilwoman Jill Doherty . “Is that what you’re saying?”

Mr. Standish said that was accurate.

“It is a lot of money,” he said.

Supervisor Scott Russell said it wasn’t a secret the town had been paying the surcharge. He stood by the previous payments into the program — which is now called the Long Island Green Choice Program under PSEG Long Island.

Between 2006 and 2008 the program provided the town with roughly $17,000 in green energy incentives, such as to install more efficient lighting, he said.

He pointed out that even after the incentives ended in 2009, the program continued to support the electric company’s investment in alternative energy systems.

“The idea was to become a good consumer,” he said. “But one of the problems we have is it’s costing us money and they haven’t been investing in alternatives and renewables.”

Later on Tuesday afternoon, during their regular session, board members voted 6-0 in favor of canceling the town’s involvement with the PSEG Green Choice Program.

After the meeting, Mr. Russell said if PSEG recommitted to funding alternative energy systems to power Long Island towns and villages, he would support the idea of re-enrolling in the Green Choice Program.

[email protected]