On Nov. 18 the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), BP Solar International, Inc. (BP Solar) and Brookhaven National Laboratory officially turned on the switch at the new, 32-megawatt Long Island Solar Farm—the biggest in the region.
“It’s the largest east of the Mississippi, and among the largest constructed on federal property in the U.S.,” said LIPA spokesperson Vanessa Baird-Streeter.
The array being hosted at Brookhaven has a small footprint for its capacity.
“That’s very important because in areas that are 90 percent developed you’re going to have to be very creative to use the least amount of land to develop solar,” she said.
LIPA is buying the power from Long Island Solar Farm LLC, which is co-owned by BP Solar and MetLife, under a 20-year power-purchase agreement, according to Baird-Streeter. It’s projected to produce 50 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power roughly 4,500 households in the region.
The new farm is part of a larger LIPA project.
“We issued a request for proposals in 2008 for a 50-megawatt solar project,” Baird-Streeter said. The new farm also is part of the LIPA’s efforts to meet New York’s goal of sourcing 30 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2015.
“We’re trying to, of course, meet the goal,” she said. However, at this point, it hasn’t met that goal.
The new solar farm is part of the end result. The utility also is purchasing 18 megawatts of distributed generation which should be completed by the end of 2012, according to Baird-Streeter.
“We selected enXco for the distributed generation project,” she said.
That project will consist of solar carports built on Suffolk County-owned parking lots. Three are being built now, and three more are under development.
LIPA has been supporting solar through incentives since 2000, according to Baird-Streeter.
“This kind of builds on LIPA’s Solar Pioneers program,” she said. That program has helped about 4,800 Long Island homeowners and businesses to go solar, she said.
Image courtesy of LIPA.