By Nikolas Donadic and Jim Lo
The Town of Riverhead will hold a special meeting on Feb. 27th to discuss its decision to sell land to Calverton Aviation & Technology, to be developed into an area for commercial aviation.
sPower, a solar power company, has forced the town’s hand by levying a lawsuit against them, claiming that they should be allowed to bid on the land. sPower wants to develop a solar farm and solar facilities at the site.
“[Calverton] promised a one million square feet shoot off space in the first 18 to 24 months, and to invest one million dollars into pairing up the runway in the first 18 months,” Lauren Jens-Smith, Riverhead Town Supervisor, said.
If the town overturns its past decision, terminating its agreement with Calverton Aviation & Technology, it would open the door for other companies to bid for EPCAL Land. The US Navy gave the land, the Enterprise Park at Calverton or EPCAL, to the Town of Riverhead in 1998 as an economy generator.
Calverton Aviation & Technology, a joint venture by Luminati Aerospace and Triple Five Real Estate LLC, initially reached an agreement with the town in April of 2017.
“The letter of intent was to Luminati…That letter of intent is no longer valid because now the transaction is going to be with another company,” John Moran, the sPower Project Manager, said.
“We are also giving a nice return of pay property tax to Riverhead,” Moran added.
The Town of Riverhead has made past attempts at selling the land, but multiple contracts between companies and the town have fallen through over the last 20 years
“Hopefully moving forward, we can learn from our mistakes, and be able to make something that’s good for the community,” Jens-Smith said.
New York’s 2018 “Clean Energy Mandate,” set the goal to have 50% of the state’s electricity generated by renewable energy sources by 2030.
“New Yorkers know too well the devastation caused by climate change, and in order to slow the effects of extreme weather and build our communities to be stronger and more resilient, we must make significant investments in renewable energy,” Cuomo said earlier this year, as he unveiled New York’s 2018 Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda.
Cuomo set the goal of increasing wind power production to 800 megawatts by 2019, which would be enough to power 400,000 homes. This will add to the production of the South Fork Wind Farm, developed by Deepwater Wind, which currently generates enough energy to power 50,000 homes on Long Island.
As of now, New York State generates 1.03% of its electricity via solar energy alone, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. This represents an increase of over 1,000% since the end of 2011, the first year of Cuomo’s tenure as governor.
Cuomo’s agenda also included proposed regulations to close all remaining coal plants in New York, in the interest of cutting down drastically on pollution and carbon emissions.
If the Riverhead property does go to sPower, it would be the company’s third major solar project in the state of New York and its first since 2016. sPower completed its Shoreham project in May of 2016 and its Sutter/Sterlington project in December of 2015.
“This deal has been around for almost a year, [I] hope we have a healthy crowd on Feb. 27th,” Jens-Smith said.