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Solar panels at Southold Animal Shelter will help lower electric costs

Electric costs in Southold town are expected to decrease after the completion of solar panels at Southold Animal Shelter, according to town engineer Michael Collins.

The new system is projected to produce 226,414 kilowatt hours, or a unit of energy equal to 3.6 megajoules, per year. This would reduce electrical costs by $29,434, Mr. Collins said.

“The idea here is that you want to do something that saves money for the town over time,” he said. “You don’t have to wait nine and a half years to see value, you’re getting that value right up front. It’s just that that value accelerates over time.”

Last week, the town installed solar panels on the roof of the animal shelter with financial help from the State Energy Research and Development Authority. NYSERDA provided the town with a $100,000 grant toward a clean energy project.

The project is also funded through a $160,000 donation from the nonprofit Southold Raynor Animal Shelter Foundation, which operates separately from the animal shelter, town government liaison officer Denis Noncarrow said. Those funds will be used to install ground-mounted solar panels in an outdoor recreational area west of the shelter, Mr. Noncarrow said.

The separate shelter will offer a shaded environment for dogs to play and relax during summer months, Mr. Noncarrow said. That project is expected to be completed June 15, 2019.

NYSERDA will also provides the town with a rebate for the completed project — projected at $26,085, Mr. Collins said. He said the town is in the process of receiving approval on the rebate.

The project would be paid back over 9.5 years, Mr. Collins said. “Simple payback” is calculated by dividing the net cost of the town by the electrical savings, but the actual amount the town gets back may vary.

Mr. Collins said the project was first proposed by the town in 2013 and has been delayed by applying for grants, working on budget estimates and inspecting different funding options.

“This is definitely meant as a triple win: it’s good for the animals, it’s good for the town’s budget, it’s good for the environment,” Mr. Collins said. “Everybody wins.”

Mr. Noncarrow said as this project becomes a success, the town may consider implementing solar panels in other town-owned buildings.

Photo caption: Solar panels were installed on the roof of Southold Animal Shelter in Peconic Monday afternoon. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

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