When Superstorm Sandy hit eastern Long Island in October 2012, virtually every resident of East Hampton lost power for days, some for weeks. Town leaders knew they couldn't let it happen again; they needed to find a way to protect their community and make it more resilient in the future.
"It was a wake-up call for everybody who lives on the East Coast, certainly in our community out here on the eastern end of Long Island," said East Hampton town supervisor Larry Cantwell.
So, the town acted quickly to adopt an ambitious goal: converting 100 percent of its electrical energy to renewable sources by 2020. Its plan includes solar and wind energy, and it's exploring creating one of New York's first microgrids as a backup power source for emergency facilities.
"Every household, every business, it's going to require that we think differently about traditional power sources and that we reject traditional fuel sources," said Cantwell. "It's going to take every citizen accepting responsibility for becoming more energy efficient."
Switching to renewables is a growing trend among towns, cities and states in the U.S. But while most are aiming to be 20 percent, 30 percent or 50 percent renewable by a given date, East Hampton is one of a handful of municipalities going all-in.