The power sector in New York City has become significantly cleaner in recent years, but a fundamental reconfiguration is required to achieve a deep reduction in GHG emissions and move toward the 80 x 50 goal. One key initiative is to spur the growth of solar energy, which has seen exponential growth in New York City over the past decade. Not only does solar power replace more emissions-intensive fuel sources, but it also represents a significant economic opportunity by creating local jobs while reducing the burden of energy costs for communities and small businesses.
In 2014, the City committed to supporting this growth by setting a target of 250 megawatts (MW) for private sector solar capacity and 100 MW for solar capacity on public buildings by 2025. These targets were outlined in One City: Built to Last, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from a 2005 baseline by 2025 from almost a million buildings in New York City.
Current citywide capacity has nearly quadrupled since the end of 2013, from 25 MW to over 92 MW by the end of June 2016. To view the locations of self-reported solar installations and assess the potential to install solar on any property in New York City, visit the NY Solar Map and Portal.
The City is also leading by example, having installed nearly 9 MW of solar on public buildings, including City Hall, 35 schools, and major facilities such as the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment plant. An additional 15 MW of solar is in the pipeline, primarily using power purchase agreements at no upfront cost to the City. For more information on the City’s efforts with solar and other renewable energy, visit the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services Division of Energy Management.
The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) will sustain this progress through its involvement in the NYC Solar Partnership. Led by Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York, the NYC Solar Partnership was formed in 2006 with partner organizations the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office. With policy and funding support from the City, the NYC Solar Partnership works to expand access to clean, reliable, and affordable solar energy for all New Yorkers and promote a robust marketplace for solar energy in New York City. For more information, visit NYC Solar Partnership.
To make solar power more affordable, the Partnership is aiming to further reduce the non-hardware or “soft” costs of installing solar, which can add up to 64 percent to the cost of installations, by streamlining the permitting, interconnection and inspection processes.
Through Mayor de Blasio's One City: Built to Last initiative, the NYC Solar Partnership is leading the implementation of two solar programs that will help to expand access to clean, reliable and affordable solar energy for all New Yorkers: SOLARIZE NYC and SHARED SOLAR NYC. These two unique opportunities are designed to achieve the largest mayoral solar commitment in the country: installing 350 MW of solar in NYC by 2025. Accordingly, the Partnership will provide financial and technical support for up to eight campaigns a year for successful applicants.
In solarize campaigns communities of potential solar customers come together through widespread outreach and education to 'go solar' at a discounted price. Communities can be defined in a multitude of ways: by geographic boundaries, affinity group membership (e.g., labor union), employees of the same organization, or other organizational structures with self-identifying members. Communities and stakeholders can learn how to submit an application to lead a Solarize campaign and what kind of support the NYC Solar Partnership will provide. Learn more at Solarize NYC.
CSS programs install a large solar energy system on a host site and invite community members to subscribe to shares of the solar power in return for credits on their electric bills. Potential hosts, developers, contractors and interested community partners can find out how to get involved and take advantage of support provided by the NYC Solar Partnership.
In addition to its work with the NYC Solar Partnership, MOS is coordinating with City agencies to ensure a cleaner energy future, with solar as a prominent component. In July 2015, the City issued a request for information to identify solutions that can power City government operations entirely with renewable energy sources. As one of the largest energy purchasers in the nation, New York’s City government has sufficient purchasing power to stimulate the private market for cleaner energy solutions, including large-scale solar installations. For more on this solicitation, visit Renewable Energy RFI.
Furthermore, MOS is emphasizing solar power in its efforts to pursue Mayor de Blasio’s 80 x 50 greenhouse gas emission reduction goal. Specifically, the MOS Energy Supply team is working to decarbonize the city’s power supply, in large part by leveraging the potential for solar energy to displace fossil fuels at the building scale, community scale, and utility scale.