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Fuel cell project could cut the electric bills of 10,000 LIers by 10%

A California company is proposing to install fuel cells in a Melville parking lot that would reduce the electric bills of 10,000 homeowners by a guaranteed 10%, or $151 per year, officials said on Thursday.

Generate Capital Inc., based in San Francisco, wants to put 28 fuel cells on a half-acre parcel at 575 Broad Hollow Rd. The land is part of a large parking lot for a small office building across from the Long Island Hilton hotel.

Generate has hired Edgewise Energy in Plainview to construct the $57 million project and get homeowners from across the Island to buy the 7.6 megawatts of electricity through a subscription plan.

“The Long Island residents who subscribe to our project will have access to cheaper and cleaner electricity” because the fuel cells produce energy through “an electrochemical process without combustion,” said Jeff Ross, head of Generate’s investment team.

The fuel-cell energy project still must win building permits from Huntington Town.

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday awarded Generate a sales-tax exemption of up to $2 million on the purchase of construction materials and equipment for the project. The company also agreed to a property-tax deal over 25 years in which it will pay an average of $307,500 per year on top of the parking lot’s annual tax bill of $6,000.

The project won’t create any permanent jobs, but Ross said Generate and its local partner Edgewise would employ 15 unionized workers for construction in August-September.

Edgewise CEO Sammy Chu is a former labor commissioner under Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, vice chairman of the county’s planning commission and chairman of the Long Island chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2019, Chu unsuccessfully lobbied the IDA to require businesses that receive its tax breaks to publicly disclose how much energy they use.

Separately, Generate has proposed a fuel cell project at 1640 Hempstead Tpke. in East Meadow on the site of the former Lufthansa Airlines building across from Eisenhower Park.

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