CEO addresses future of Long Island energy
Thomas Falcone, CEO of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), shared insight on the future of energy on Long Island and encouraged sustainability to an audience of students, community members and Nassau County officials at the Hofstra University Club on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Falcone’s address, part of Hofstra’s Distinguished Lecture Series, was sponsored by both the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Scott Skodnek Business Development Center at Hofstra along with Northwell Health.
According to the company’s website, LIPA, founded in 1986, is the “third-largest not-for-profit, publicly-owned electric utility in the United States.”
Falcone praised the public-private nature of LIPA’s partnership with Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) Long Island and other neighboring electric utilities, stating that contracting with the New Jersey-based energy company has cut electric bills for LIPA’s 1.1 million customers by 20 percent.
“We save Long Island a lot of money by doing this,” Falcone said.
He also addressed a common complaint about LIPA – that “they’re doing a lot of construction,” as he put it. “LIPA is about halfway through with renovation across the island,” Falcone said.
The second part of Falcone’s lecture focused on how LIPA plans to make Long Island energy more sustainable.
Last December, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his proposal for a state-wide Green New Deal that will aim to make New York energy totally carbon neutral by 2040.
Falcone repeatedly referred to the governor’s climate vision for the state as “aggressive,” but made it clear that LIPA is on board with Cuomo’s plan to wean New York off of fossil fuels.
“Are they achievable? Yes,” Falcone said of Cuomo’s climate goals for New York.
Falcone also explained some of LIPA’s planned initiatives to alter Long Island energy, one being a $207 million effort to install technologically advanced electric meters, known as smart meters, for all customers by 2022.
Smart meters would allow consumers to be more conscious of how they consume energy. “Smart meters can monitor how much energy you use and when you use it,” Falcone said.
LIPA is meeting the current demand for energy on Long Island with the infrastructure already in place; however, further investment in both electric power plants and renewable energy sources is LIPA’s strategy for the future.
“We just were in a polar vortex last week, and then yesterday it was a beautiful spring day,” said freshman journalism major Courtney Fegley. “We need to take care of our environment and the fact that LIPA is taking that into consideration is very important.”
“We’re building solar farms, we’re building offshore wind farms ... we’re doing things to clean the grid,” Falcone said.
Jenni Goldstein, a junior journalism major, feels that it is important for companies like LIPA to reduce the amount of energy being used.
“New York is a very populated area, and the more populated the area, the more energy being used. So it’s definitely important that energy companies focus on reducing the amount of energy used in order to improve the climate,” Goldstein said.
Falcone ended his address by talking about what the average person on Long Island can do to make their energy usage more sustainable.
He mentioned LIPA’s free energy audit and urged the audience to ask Amazon’s Alexa about LIPA, which drew a laugh. A recent partnership between Amazon and LIPA allows one to access energy saving tips by interacting with the new “Alexa Skill.”
“I think that [LIPA is] pretty assertive and [has] a pretty assertive policy [on renewable energy],” said Lois Miceli, project administrator at Hofstra’s Center for STEM Research. Miceli found Falcone to be very forward about LIPA’s plan to make Long Island energy more sustainable but stressed that more can always be done. “I would like to see more – we [can already] see what climate change is doing to our communities.”
LIPA has noticed the local and national concern surrounding climate change. “[We] are going to be a positive force for Long Island for the future,” Falcone said.