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Industry Protests Against Southampton Solar-Powered Pool Legislation

The Southampton Town Board heard proposals earlier this week to amend a new law that will require all new pool heaters to be solar-powered. The law is facing opposition from the Northeastern Pool & Spa Association and the Long Island Pool & Spa Association (“LIPSA”), industry groups that represent pool equipment manufacturers and dealers. Although it would be the first such law on Long Island, a handful of municipalities nationwide have already adopted similar laws.

John Tortorella, one of the largest swimming pool contractors in Southampton, praised the concept as “a good idea,” but also cautioned that “all hell will break loose” if the law is enacted as currently drafted, requiring customers to incur thousands of dollars in additional plumbing and infrastructure costs.

LIPSA argued before the Board that solar-powered pool heaters require more room to install than electric or gas heaters, and could require some pool owners to remove decks and trees in order to comply with the legislation. As currently drafted, the law provides for an exemption if a building inspector believes that a particular property cannot accomodate the installation of a solar heating system; the exemption would instead require the most energy efficient installation.

Opponents also argued before the Board that its October 1 deadline for the legislation to take effect is “rushed,” and that the town should exempt homeowners on lots of a half-acre or less from the law.

Southampton’s “Green Committee” originally proposed the legislation, which was adopted back in July.

Pool heaters and pumps are responsible for a significant amount of summer energy use; according to the Department of Energy, the average pool heater requires 2300 kilowatt hours of electricity to operate each year.

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