RONKONKOMA, NY, July 31, 2019- The completion of a unique animal shelter solar project was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at the North Fork Animal Welfare League (NFAWL) Southold Animal Shelter in Peconic, NY. This inaugural event was attended by key parties involved, including initiators of the project Jeff Standish, town of Southold director of public works, and Gillian Pultz, executive director of NFAWL. Also present were Co-Founders of Long Island based SUNation Solar Systems, Michael Bailis and Scott Maskin, Town Supervisor Scott Russell, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for PSEG Long Island Michael Voltz, and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo.
The partnership between SUNation and The Southold Animal Shelter is one-of-a-kind, as it marks the first animal shelter in New York State to be powered by solar energy. “Jeff and I conceived of this project in 2013, and he has been tenacious as a bulldog to get this done,” remarks Pultz in reflecting on a 6-year process defined by the navigation and sourcing of funding, grants, permits, approvals and materials for an unprecedented type of project. “Over the past 6 years we have worked diligently with the town to put this together. For me to finally see this happen is just absolutely wonderful,” says Bailis. “This is One of the most unique projects that I’ve ever been involved in and one of the first of its kind in the country.”
The commercial engineering team at SUNation designed the Southold Animal Shelter system to meet 100% of the electric needs of the shelter with any excess production being remotely net-metered to other town of Southold facilities. The 179,900-Watt solar system consisting of 370 modules encompasses roof top panels on the shelter itself, as well as ground mounted solar dog ports. The solar resources at the Southold Animal Shelter will not only serve a financial advantage to the shelter but will resultantly benefit taxpayers and the community through generated savings. “My understanding is that our building had the biggest drain of any building in the community owned by the town of Southold and now we’re going to have the smallest,” Pultz proudly states of the impact that solarizing the animal shelter will have on the town.
“This is what we would call the perfect dual-purpose project, not only does it provide alternative renewable energy, it is also going to provide much needed shelter for the animals,” remarks Russell. By sheltering dogs from the elements with their new ground mounted solar system, NFAWL is enhancing the quality of life for their shelter residents, providing them shade for merited respite in the outdoor recreation pens. “We measured the temperatures in the shade yesterday and it was close to 20 degrees cooler underneath those panels than it was outside,” exclaims Pultz. “It’s also going to cut down on manpower hours in the winter. We’re not going to have to shovel the pens anymore, giving us more time for our mission which is to take care of homeless and needy animals here in the town of Southold.”
Through solar energy, the town of Southold endorses and proliferates the sustainability of their community, Long Island and the environment at large. “We thank Supervisor Russell for including us in this momentous occasion,” said Voltz. “This project is a perfect example of new innovative ways to provide clean, renewable energy to Long Island. PSEG Long Island is committed to reducing carbon emissions and our dependency on fossil fuel to help make Long Island even better in the future.” Additionally, the town of Southold is setting a precedent that is likely to resonate with other animal shelters and municipal establishments. “we’re very proud of what we’ve done here,” exclaims Bailis. “There are other areas where this might work, such as providing shaded rest areas in parks. We think that this is going to be a duplicatable type of product going forward.”
Assemblyman Palumbo believes, “This is the cutting edge.” He continues, “We want to go in this direction, pushing municipalities and local governments to consider renewables above all. The fact that this is off the ground without being mandated, but just because it’s smart government, is really a wonderful thing.”