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Solar Installations More Than Doubled Since Beginning of de Blasio Administration, Mayor Announces During Climate Week

September 21, 2015

Public and Private Solar a Central Commitment of Mayor’s One City Green Buildings Plan, 80 Percent Reduction in Emissions by 2050

NEW YORK— With Climate Week kicking off today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that solar installations have more than doubled since the beginning of his administration.

Under Mayor de Blasio’s One City: Built to Last plan released last Climate Week, the City made a commitment to spurring the growth of solar energy in New York City on both public and private buildings, including through community purchasing and other support – a key step as the City works towards the Mayor’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 (with an interim goal of reducing emissions 40 percent by 2030).

“New York City is a global leader when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint – and we doubled down last Climate Week with our commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050. That commitment is already paying huge dividends,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Solar is a vital piece of the puzzle as we move to renewables and away from fossil fuels. We’ve more than doubled solar installations in the last 20 months, and that will exponentially grow as we build a more sustainable and resilient New York.”

Overall, the City has committed to installing 100 megawatts (MW) of solar power on public buildings and spurring the installation of 250 MW on private buildings by 2025. 

Private Solar

Private solar installations in New York City have more than doubled since the end of 2013, from less than 25 MW at the end of 2013 to more than 54 MW today across more than 3,500 installations. 

Private solar installations are growing enormously in all five boroughs – with 1.5 MW installed in Manhattan, nearly 10 MW in the Bronx and Brooklyn each, nearly 14 MW in Queens, and more than 19 MW on Staten Island. 

This includes nearly 3,000 installations on residential properties, and over 600 installations on non-residential properties.

Separately, there is another nearly 18 MW of private solar installations scheduled to be installed.

As part of Mayor de Blasio’s One City: Built to Last, the New York Solar Smart initiative at CUNY is supporting the development of private solar installations in New York City. One City also expanded the Solarize program, which encourages group purchase of solar energy installations across communities to lower costs for small businesses and homeowners. Solarize has already begun in Brooklyn Community Board 6 (Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, and Red Hook) and will soon expand to a number of other communities around the city.

The City is also funding CUNY’s NYC Solar Partnership, which develops and implements comprehensive plans for large-scale solar integration and associated economic development around the city, including increased resiliency for communities through targeted solar installations around grid independence and battery storage. Additionally, the City’s comprehensive resiliency plan includes support for distributed generation and microgrids in order to ensure more resilient power supplies.

Public Solar 

The City is also leading by example, with more than 4.2 MW of solar now installed on public buildings, including City Hall, 16 schools, and major facilities like the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant. An additional 4 MW of solar projects are already underway on 17 other schools.

This week, New York City is releasing an RFP to solicit at least an additional 15 MW of solar on public buildings, which can be found here.  

Solar is just one piece of Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to retrofit every public building with any significant energy use by 2025. The City is also working toward an even larger expansion of renewable energy use in City government, moving to power 100 percent of City government operations from renewables by identifying new generation capacity.

“Solar energy in NYC is here to stay, and will only become more important in the coming years as costs come down and panels become even more efficient,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “This is a three-fer: increasing solar energy cuts our greenhouse gas emissions, is a growing source of jobs, and improves air quality. It’s a OneNYC hat trick, with Staten Island leading the way. With this amount of solar energy, we’ve done the equivalent of taking 38,000 cars off the road.”

“Under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, the City continues to diversify its energy mix and promote more resilient and renewable sources,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “By expanding our commitment to solar energy and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, our communities will be better prepared to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change and other 21st century threats.”

“We have made great strides in bringing clean, renewable energy to public buildings through our solar schools partnership with the Department of Education, the New York Power Authority and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.  We have already doubled solar installations on public buildings and the release of this large-scale solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) RFP will get us even closer to meeting our goal of installing 100MW of solar by 2025,” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Stacey Cumberbatch.

“Major new investments in solar energy are absolutely essential in charting a clean energy future for New York City.  These investments will reduce the damaging impacts of carbon pollution from burning fossil fuel, improve local air quality and consequently improve public health for New Yorkers who struggle with asthma and other respiratory and cardiac diseases. I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to boost the use of solar in the city and urge other mayors to take similar action,” said Judith A. Enck, Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Climate change is a global crisis, and if we are going to get serious about cutting down our carbon footprint, we need to utilize cleaner forms of renewable energy,” said Congressman Eliot Engel, senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Solar energy is not only clean and renewable, but can also been extremely cost effective I thank Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to the proliferation of renewables in NYC.”

“New York is leading by example and confronting the challenge of climate change head on,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Mayor de Blasio has set and ambitious but attainable goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The growth in solar energy is one way New Yorkers are achieving that goal. I applaud the Mayor for these efforts.”

Public Advocate Letitia James said, “Solar panels are an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our environment. I applaud the administration for its commitment to solar energy. Through initiatives such as these, we can continue to preserve our city for generations to come.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “Solar energy is critical to a greener tomorrow for everyone in New York City, improving our environment while saving hard-earned dollars for families living paycheck to paycheck. In Brooklyn, we’re moving quickly to bring shared solar into reality, starting with our Renewable and Sustainable Energy Taskforce (ReSET) and our efforts to advance the Solarize program in Community Board 6. In order to truly transform our energy system, we need projects like this in every neighborhood. I thank Mayor de Blasio and his administration for working to bring solar energy to our City’s private and public building stock, and I look forward to their continued partnership with ReSET as we seek to boldly innovate our renewable and sustainable energy future in Brooklyn.”

“Our city can and should lead the nation when it comes to sustainability, and an aggressive pursuit of public and private solar power generation is an important piece of that,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “More renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, waste diversion and recycling, and dramatically decreased greenhouse gas emissions are all key elements if we’re to chart a more sustainable way forward.”

Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said, “The numbers show that Staten Island homeowners are leading the way on solar installations. This is consistent with what I see on a regular basis, which is an increasing number of solar panels on many roofs. In fact, we recently used social media to verify what our eyes are seeing and to ask those Staten Islanders who have taken the solar plunge about their experiences with solar. The feedback we received was that finding the right company to work with was key since experiences varied, however, for the most part Staten Islanders were saving money and happy about it.”

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the bipartisan New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators, said, “People sometimes underestimate the potential of solar as a major source of clean, reliable energy in New York City. So it’s great to see the progress the Mayor is announcing today, and even better to see big new commitments to more solar on public property and innovative programs to promote solar on private property. These initiatives are essential to cutting dangerous climate-changing pollution and providing our city with a more diverse and therefore more resilient mix of energy resources.”

“As Chair of the Renewable Energy subcommittee, I look forward to exploring innovative solutions with our Mayor’s office.  It’s time to become more globally conscious citizens. The future of our city depends on renewable, sustainable and clean energy.  The simple solution to prevent an energy crisis is a focus on renewables which leads to needed economic benefits and opportunities,” said Assembly Member Latrice Walker.

Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council's Environmental Protection Committee, said, “Private solar installation has more than doubled in NYC over the past two years. We are also making headway among public buildings, with solar installations at nearly 35 schools across the city. As we move closer toward our goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, renewable energy sources such as solar power will help bring us in that direction. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Office of Sustainability Director Nilda Mesa for their leadership on cutting our city’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

"Reducing the city's carbon footprint is one of the most important challenges we have today and this benchmark shows we have made significant progress," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to boosting solar power citywide and look forward to finding more creative methods to conserve energy."

“As the Council’s Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, I am proud that our city continues to prioritize the sustainability of our public buildings. Through this vast expansion of solar installations, it’s my hope that we drastically reduce our city’s carbon footprint and further become a global example in the fight against climate change,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

“Using more new, abundant sources of energy like solar is key to securing a clean, low-carbon energy future. Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to spurring the growth of solar energy will help make the most of falling solar prices while creating jobs and helping all New Yorkers breathe cleaner, healthier air,” said Rory Christian, Director of New York Clean Energy at the Environmental Defense Fund.

“This impressive growth of solar installations shows that New York City is moving in exactly the right direction for the low-carbon world that all of us need. The City is demonstrating that solar can work on a wide variety of buildings, and can become a meaningful part of our energy supply,” said Professor Michael B. Gerrard, Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School.

“Today we see the sun is shining brighter on Mayor de Blasio’s path to cutting New York City’s carbon footprint 80 percent by 2050. With private solar installations jumping from 25MW at the end of 2013 to more than 54 MW today, it’s clear that we can meet the challenges ahead because New Yorkers are on board with making our city a shining example of urban sustainability,” said Nancy Anderson, Executive Director or The Sallan Foundation.

“Solar energy is an important and innovative part of improving our environment. The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance thanks Mayor de Blasio and his administration for committing to make New York City greener and more sustainable by increasing and encouraging solar installations. I look forward to this administration’s continued work toward the Mayor’s vision of growing solar energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.

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