APPEARED YESTERDAY IN THE EAST HAMPTON STAR.
September 1, 2019
To the Editor:
If you were enjoying a glorious ocean beach day, or hoeing your garden in hot sun, you might think East Hampton could achieve energy sustainability just by exploiting solar power. You would be wrong. Gordian Raacke, former executive director of the federal court-appointed citizens advisory panel created in 1993 to represent Long Island’s electricity consumers, has been studying the options for the last 26 years.In 2014, Raacke advised East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell and the town board that they could not reach their goal of full sustainability through solar power alone.
In 2018, Raacke updated his research in a highly technical study of the estimated achievable potential of renewable energy sources over five years within the geographical boundary of East Hampton Township. Using authoritative data sources, the study assumed solar panels of every known type covering every feasible site in East Hampton, whether on rooftop or ground. It estimated that solar could provide a maximum 14 percent of annual electricity consumption over the next five years. For full sustainability the bulk of our power would need to be generated by offshore wind.
The reasons are plain. Much of East Hampton, ground and rooftop, is covered by woods and forests. Most of the sunny open space that could support panels on the ground is protected by law from further development. The rest is privately owned property too expensive for the town to rent or buy.
Our town board faced hard facts when it decided in 2014 that the town would need a major infusion of wind power to meet its sustainability goal. The current town board is doing the same. So should members of our community to resist the impacts of climate change on our beautiful environment.