Southampton Encourages Residential Solar Power




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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Southampton Town Board agreed to move forward with the Solarize Southampton program on Thursday, despite concerns raised by Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and Councilman Stan Glinka that the town’s agreement to work with a single provider might be construed as its endorsement of that firm.

GreenLogic, which was selected for the program a year ago, once again provided the best bid package from among three firms, according to Christine Fetton, the town’s director of public works.

Under the program, which the town launched last year to encourage the residential solar power systems, the selected company must agree to provide price breaks for people who sign up with it under the auspices of the town program. Those rates would decline as the number of people signing up increases.

Last year, 183 people inquired about the program and 23 installed solar arrays, Ms. Fetton said. Besides GreenLogic, Sun Nation and Harvest Power also submitted bids, although Ms. Fetton did not provide details about the bid packages or respond to a request for additional information about the program.

The Solarize Southampton program came out of a recommendation of the town’s Sustainability Committee. Those who sign up qualify for a free home energy audit but are not required to purchase solar panels.

Both Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. Glinka expressed reservations that the town would be favoring GreenLogic over other solar companies that might be just as good.

“We are putting our name in a way on a particular company,” Mr. Schneiderman said, while Mr. Glinka asked if the town could simply offer residents a list of solar companies that do business in town.

“There is nothing that precludes you from shopping” and trying to strike a similar deal with another company, Ms. Fetton responded.

“The sustainability committee has been working on this with a lot of diligence,” added Councilman John Bouvier. “This was not done in a vacuum.”

Mr. Schneiderman also wanted assurances that GreenLogic’s bid prices were uniformly the best across the range of contracts signed, which Ms. Fetton promised to deliver to him before the board is asked to cast a formal vote on the program.

“It is essentially a marketing campaign,” she told the town board. We create the buzz and hold community events.”

The town’s cost of administering the program is covered by a $5,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA.