Installer: Solar farms may max out LIPA substations

Solar power systems installer Mike Bailis says the outlook is not bright for homeowners and some businesses planning to power their buildings with solar panels.

Bailis says the problem is large-scale solar farm developers, including those in Calverton and Shoreham, that could max out the total amount of energy a LIPA substation in the area can handle.

"Unfortunately, by developing these large farms, they end up eating up most of the capacity in those substations. If they start taking all of that power and putting it through the substation, it eliminates the possibility of small- and medium-size installations in that grid area. As a result, we get locked out," Bailis explained.

Bailis says homeowners and medium-size businesses that want to install solar panels to cut utility bills, may get turned down by PSEG Long Island when they put in an application for interconnection.

A PSEG Long Island spokesman says the utility has never turned away a homeowner from installing solar panels because substations are reaching their capacity. The utility says it's monitoring the situation.

"At least for the next 12 to 18 months, it is not something that is going to be at risk or a challenge and we are working diligently that it stays that way," says spokesperson Jeffrey Weir.

Bailis says the demand for solar power is growing, and the utility should start strengthening the grid. He says the large-scale solar farm developers should share the financial burden to upgrade the system.

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