Patchogue Awarded a State Solar Grant

FIN Patchogue state solar grant IMG_4303
Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri at the village’s LIRR parking lot. The village is has received a $3 million to fund a solar project there.
Photo by Linda Leuzzi.

Recently the Village of Patchogue was awarded a major state solar grant. It’s pretty cool when a municipal official receives a phone call from the New York State Governor with good news. That’s what happened when Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri answered the phone recently with Gov. Kathy Hochul on the other end. The village, who owns the LIRR train station parking lot, was approved for a $3 million grant to fund solar panels there.

“She understood we were doing a major solar project and looking for help from the state,” he said. “One of the governor’s goals (through New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2021) is to install six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025,” he said.

“We’re planning to expand our sewer plant from 800,000 gallons to 1.1 million a day. This would allow us to build and develop additional housing in the community but more importantly, on Long Island.”

Pontieri explained the village’s solar project is a $5 million investment. The state’s $3 million would reduce the amount needed to bond for $2 million.

“It also gives us an opportunity to bond on an additional $1 million towards improving our parks,” he said.

According to Long Island Press Secretary Gordon Tepper, the Governor is allocating $3 million from existing state capital funding sources.

Solar panels in the parking lot, located on Division Street between West and South Ocean avenues, would cover the center section of the lot. The parking lot is the eastern terminus for some trains on the branch and is close to the port for ferries to Fire Island.

“Like the parking lot behind Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts it will be a covered lot and we’ll put in six to eight charging stations,” he elaborated.

According to Johnson Controls Account Executive for Sustainable Infrastructure Chris Fitzsimmons who worked on the original Patchogue Village solar plan in 2021, the total size of the solar generation is 880 kilowatts. The sewer is accommodated through a PSE&G program they offer. “The village produces power, the utility company purchases the power for the grid, and gives the village a credit,” Fitzsimmons explained.

“Two years ago we put solar on our theatre roof and theatre parking lot with portions on village hall and DPW,” Pontieri added.

As for savings the grant would enable,

“We spend currently $250,000 a year on electricity on the sewer plant,” he explained. “The electricity at the parking lot will reduce the cost and allow us to expand there. Johnson Controls put together a plan that the savings will pay the debt for the cost of the construction.”

Patchogue Village isn’t the first village to install solar panels at their train station. Lindenhurst did it in 2021 with a 362kW solar PV carport at their LIRR Commuter Parking Lot. “I went there to see how they did it,” said Pontieri. “Now Southampton is in the process of working with Johnson Controls on a similar project.”

Pontieri said the village has to lay out the money first.

“The governor called right after the budget was approved,” he said. “We’re doing all the planning now. The real work will start some time in June.”

Gov. Hochul applauded Pontieri’s dedication to smart growth. “(It) serves as a model for municipalities across the state,” she said in a press release. “We are proud to support his vision with $3 million in state funding toward the solar carports project.”