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UNIONDALE, NY-Two solar power companies will provide a total of 50 megawatts of energy under a project spearhead by Long Island Power Authority. Reportedly the largest of its kind in New York State, the project will power 6,500 residential customers when completed and will triple the state’s solar energy capacity.

Gov. David Paterson and LIPA officials on Friday announced the results of an RFP issued last April. BP Solar will provide 36.9 megawatts of solar energy from facilities that the company will build at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Additionally, enXco will supply 13.1 megawatts of solar energy from facilities constructed and operated on municipal, school and private properties in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

LIPA will start negotiations with both companies on power purchase agreements, which normally run for 20 years. A LIPA spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that financial terms of the PPAs will be available once the agreements are reached. In the meantime, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is providing LIPA with $15 million toward the project. NYSERDA will also work with LIPA to identify other possible sources of funding; according to published reports, LIPA is seeking to get some funds from the Obama administration’s $787-billion stimulus package.

In a release, Francis Murray, NYSERDA’s president and CEO, says, “Solar technology will help meet Long Island’s growing demand for electricity, while reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil. This investment is a critical component of Gov. Paterson’s ‘45 by 15′ initiative: meeting 45% of the State’s electricity requirements through a combination of energy efficiency and renewable sources by the year 2015.” LIPA president Kevin Law says in a release that the project will “diversify Long Island’s energy portfolio, strengthen the local economy, transform the solar photovoltaic marketplace and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.”

BP Solar proposes two commercial solar photovoltaic projects at Brookhaven: the 18.7-megawatt BNL Area 1, and BNL Area 2, a project sized at 18.2 megawatts. In addition, BP Solar will work independently with BNL to construct additional solar panels to help the laboratory become more energy efficient, and will partner with BNL in developing a solar photovoltaic R&D facility that will be used for research, education and outreach.

The LIPA spokesman says the authority is building on the success of its Solar Pioneer program with the new project. Initiated in 2000, the program now encompasses 1,700 households that have installed solar panels and received a total of $40 million in rebates.

LIPA increased its budget for renewable energy programs from $8 million in 2008 to $14.4 million this year. That includes the creation of a new “Solar Entrepreneur” program for businesses and municipal solar installations with capacities of up to 100 kilowatts. The authority has also kept funding for energy-efficiency programs on par with ’08 levels. In January, LIPA introduced net metering for commercial customers, who can sell excess power back to the authority.

LIPA and Con Ed are looking at a joint venture on an offshore wind farm, the LIPA spokesman tells GlobeSt.com. Engineers are studying the feasibility of such a project, which would be located 10 to 20 miles out to sea from Queens; study results are expected to be back in about a month.

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