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Talk by Larry Cantwell, East Hampton Town Supervisor

At June 15, 2016 South Fork Energy Forum at LTV

Forty years ago as a Town Board member, I worked on the Towns first open-space
plan, along with Supervisor Mary Fallon and Town Planner Tom Thorsen.
Thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive land were identified for
preservation and, at the time, this was a very ambitious plan. I would say no one
expected it could attain many of its goals. But this plan established the goals so that
every time federal, state, or county funds were available to buy open space, East
Hampton raised its hands. Later town referenda supporting local funds to buy open
space and farmland were passed, and, in 1999, the Community Preservation Fund
was adopted. Today, over 40% of the land area has been preserved town wide and
the CPF program provides almost $25 million a year as we continue to aggressively
preserve open space.
Three years ago, upon the excellent work and recommendation of the Energy
Sustainability Committee, the Town Board adopted a Comprehensive Energy Vision
establishing the goal of meeting 100% of community-wide electric consumption
with renewable energy sources by 2020.
Some people have scoffed at this ambitious goal as some did 40 years ago on the
open-space plan. But I am even more confident today that this goal is indeed
attainablemaybe not exactly on time, but in our immediate future.
After adopting the Energy Vision Plan (again working with the Energy Sustainable
Committee), the Town adopted a Climate Action Plan, and we are very proud to
have achieved Certification by the State of New York as a Climate Smart
Community.
As we have moved towards implementation of these plans, we have received great
support from NYSERDA, with grants totaling $285,000 to analyze community
microgrids, participate in a consortium supporting energy audits and home-energy
conservation, install electric-vehicle charging stations and support solar energy. We
have supported solar energy opportunities on Town land under the feed-in-tariff
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program, completed energy audits of Town buildings and proposed electric


vehicles to replace some of the Towns fleet of vehicles. There is much more work
to do.
We all know we live in a special place. Our Town is surrounded by water. We are,
in effect, an island. And we are vulnerable as a coastal community. The sea level is
rising and will continue to rise and, as a community, we must plan for its impacts
on our coast, on our infrastructure, and on public safety. We have begun this
process and are about to begin a coastal assessment and resiliency plan.
On a larger scale, climate change is a fact. The year 2015 was the warmest year ever
recorded since 1880, the year modern recordkeeping began. While this is a larger
issue than East Hampton can address on its own, we need to do our part because
it is in our self-interest, and it is the right thing to do.
Right now we are at a crossroads in the decision-making for the energy future on
the South Fork. We know we face a serious, imminent, and growing deficit of
electricity supply on the South Fork. We know PSEG and LIPA are considering
proposals to address it. We know the Town of East Hampton wants a 100%
renewable option. I believe a strong renewable option is consistent with Governor
Cuomos goals for the State. I believe PSEG will see the value in meeting the needs
of the South Fork with renewable energy and conservation.
Like the open-space plan of 40 years ago when we raised our hands to save open
space, we raise our hands again for a renewable energy future.
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