Island Harvest harnesses the power of the sun to help feed food-insecure Long Islanders

Island Harvest harnesses the power of the sun to help feed food-insecure Long Islanders
Island Harvest Food Bank’s rooftop installation of 963 solar panels donated by SUNation will save the foodbank $63,000 in annual energy costs. The savings will be used to help feed food-insecure Long Islanders. Photo credit SUNation Energy

Reducing carbon emissions and energy costs by harnessing the sun’s energy has been used for decades.

Now, harnessing the sun’s power will benefit Long Islanders struggling to put food on their tables. Island Harvest Food Bank, Long Island’s largest hunger-relief organization, and SUNation Energy, a leading solar-energy design and installation company based in Ronkonkoma has flipped the switch on a new rooftop solar-energy system at the food bank’s 43,560-square-foot Zaki and Rahat Hossain Campus, at 126 Spagnoli Road, in Melville.

The system is expected to produce 389,588 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually, resulting in projected yearly savings in energy costs of $63,000. The savings will help support the distribution of the equivalent of 120,000 meals for Long Islanders coping with food insecurity.

Officials from Island Harvest, SUNation Energy (which donated 963 solar panels (modules) to the project), the Long Island Power Authority, National Grid, PSEG Long Island, elected representatives, and others gathered at a ceremonial flipping-of-the-switch event to commemorate the occasion.

“Not only are we doing our part to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint and help meet New York State’s aggressive greenhouse-gas-reduction goals, we’re gaining the additional benefit of channeling the savings of the solar installation directly to programs and services that help food-insecure Long Islanders,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank.

New York’s Climate Act requires a reduction in greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions of 40 percent by 2030, and 85 percent by 2050, from 1990 levels. Reducing GHG emissions, such as CO₂, is critical in addressing global climate change, and improving local and regional air quality.

The new installation at Island Harvest’s Melville facility is expected to contribute an estimated CO₂ reduction of 265,000 to 300,000 pounds per year. The total cost of the project was $526,211, but with support from LIPA, PSEG Long Island, and SUNation, the final contract price was $432,672 with an estimated return on investment of slightly less than five years, when factoring in all applicable tax benefits.

“I am so thrilled to be able to add value to our friends at Island Harvest and the people they serve,” added Scott Maskin, founder and CEO of SUNation Energy.  “Giving back to our Long Island neighbors, especially those in need is woven into the DNA of SUNation. Bringing this project to fruition was truly a team effort and I salute Randi and the forward-thinking board of Island Harvest for remaining steadfast and trusting SUNation. This is a proud day for the entire SUNation team.”

Thomas Falcone, chief executive officer at LIPA, said, “We are proud to partner with Island Harvest and provide funding for this new rooftop solar project. Together, we are working to make clean energy accessible, reduce our carbon footprint, and help provide programs and services so critical to those in need here on Long Island.”

“PSEG Long Island has been a proud partner with Island Harvest for 10 years. The work they do is vital to the health and welfare of our region,” said Dave Lyons, interim president and COO, PSEG Long Island. “We are thrilled to have supported their PV Solar project. Island Harvest now joins the thousands of Long Islanders who have made our region the leader of solar power use in New York State.”

Island Harvest’s 43,560-square-foot headquarters devotes 23,000 square feet to operational functions, such as warehousing and distribution, including a 4,300-square-foot refrigeration and freezer unit.

The remaining space is used for administrative and program services, including workforce development, nutrition education, and benefits assistance, as well as programs aimed at targeted populations, including older adults, children, and veterans.

Island Harvest’s Solar-Energy-System Highlights

Estimated energy production: 389,588 kWh per year

Total module count: 963 modules donated by SUNation

Total direct-current rating: 303.345 kilowatts

Contract price: $432,672

Estimated return on investment (ROI): 4.8 years, including applicable tax benefits

Estimated annual energy savings: $63,000

Estimated CO₂ reduction: 265,000 to 300,000 pounds*

*According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, utility-scale solar power produces between 394 and 447 MWh per acre, per year. Thus, an acre of solar panels producing zero-emission electricity saves between 267,526 and 303,513 pounds, or 121 and 138 metric tons, of carbon dioxide per year.




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