Patchogue’s solar panel project to pave way for sewer expansion, new housing, mayor says – Newsday

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Patchogue officials expect to break ground next month on a $5.5 million solar project that will help pave the way for a major expansion at its sewage treatment plant and boost plans for new housing projects, Mayor Paul Pontieri said. 

The solar panels — which will be mounted on each of the approximately 150 stalls in the Long Island Rail Road parking lot — are expected to cut power costs at the sewer plant by about 50%, or $300,000, a year, Pontieri said. 

Reducing the sewer plant’s overhead is a crucial step in completing plans for the $13 million expansion, which is expected to start next year, he said. Patchogue officials have said the sewer expansion will be almost completely funded by federal and state grants.

“Our goal is primarily an environmental one,” Pontieri said Monday, citing ongoing efforts by the village to extend sewer service to residential neighborhoods. Patchogue also needs additional sewer capacity for the proposed 262-unit Carriage House apartment complex that is going through the village approval process, he said.

“All of these big projects that are happening are putting more stress and more strain on the sewer,” Pontieri said. 

The panels also will power up to six new electric vehicle charging stations at the train station, Pontieri said.

State officials last week announced they were contributing $3 million in a grant to help fund the project.

The remaining $2.5 million will cause a “very slight” tax increase for approximately 250 single-family homes in the village sewer district, Pontieri said, adding the average home pays about $650 annually. He could not estimate taxes for businesses and multifamily housing complexes in the district. 

Pontieri said construction for the sewer plant project is expected to start next year after the village receives state permits. He has said the nearly century-old plant on Hammond Street will be expanded by 50%, from a daily capacity of 800,000 gallons to 1.2 million gallons.

Expanding the sewer plant will help advance economic revitalization in Patchogue and neighboring East Patchogue, where Brookhaven Town officials and private developers are planning new stores, apartments, office spaces and an arts center, he said. 

Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls, which has offices on Long Island, is expected to start construction of the solar carports soon after June 1, Pontieri said, adding installation should be completed in about a year. 

In a statement, Gov. Kathy Hochul said the solar panels would help support her goal of adding new housing in areas served by train stations. The governor has said 800,000 new housing units are needed statewide to address chronic housing shortages that drive up costs.

Hochul said the solar carport project “paves the way for additional housing opportunities, aligning with our goal of creating vibrant, thriving communities statewide.”

Jim Sarno, owner of Budget Buy & Sell on Main Street, said the solar plan and sewer expansion should help continue the village’s run of economic revitalization.

Adding solar power sounds like a good idea, he said, as long as there are no adverse effects. “As long as it’s good for the village … I’m all for it.”

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