The Town of Hempstead Energy Park is a pioneering entity that meets the heating and cooling needs of a municipal facility on Long Island while serving as a model for other local governments across the United States. Nestled within Point Lookout, the energy park has a majestic 100-kilowatt wind turbine with a hydrogen fueling station, a solar house, a pair of solar trackers (high-tech solar electric panels that follow the sun’s daily path across the sky), a 60-kW solar field, a solar-powered carport and a geothermal energy project.
Last Friday, we were given a behind the scenes tour of the facility by one of the Town of Hempstead’s staff biologists. This included going inside of the 120-foot tall (excluding the 35-foot blades) wind turbine, which powers a hydrogen fueling station. The wind turbine provides electricity to power a water-to-hydrogen conversion process, which produces hydrogen fuel. Just a short distance away was a self-reliant solar house designed by architecture, engineering and interior design students at New York Institute of Technology for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in 2007.
We then took a short walk to a solar and wind-powered shellfish aquaculture facility designed to improve the ecosystem in Hempstead Bay and protect the business of local fisheries by using alternative energy to increase shellfish production. I felt a connection to what we had learned in the Waterfront Center earlier in the year as we discussed the dwindling natural population of shellfish around Long Island and how contaminants after significant downpours trigger the closure of shellfish harvesting. We once again were reminded how runoff from pesticides and other pollutants can affect our local wildlife. Water testing usually begins the day after a storm; when test results show that water samples have returned to baseline levels, closures are lifted.
We closed our trip with a hike in the Lido Beach Passive Nature Area—40 acres of an ecologically sensitive property of tidal wetlands. The area supports a wide variety of grasses, vegetation and marine life, including several species of fish and shellfish. The conservation area is also part of the Atlantic Flyway. You may recall that several of us were disappointed that we had not spied an osprey at the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside. On Friday, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of newly arrived osprey taking up residence in their home.