Bloomberg Wants Solar Panels, Green Loans, for NYC


In an ambitious push to reduce New York City’s carbon footprint, Mayor Bloomberg will announce tomorrow plans to build solar panels on city landfills, and the creation of a city-run non-profit to help building owners fund their own green upgrades, according to city officials.

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More details on Bloomberg’s plans will be announced tomorrow morning in Harlem, where the mayor will deliver a major speech about the environment. Aides are billing the speech as a major update to the mayor’s sweeping environmental agenda, first outlined in 2007.

The proposals tomorrow are, in a way, Bloomberg’s effort to generate some new momentum in a key part of his agenda.

Bloomberg aides say the solar panels could accommodate about 50 megawatts of solar power. (To put that in perspective, when Governor Paterson announced a plan for New York to acquire 50MW of green energy, a news article noted that “as of the end of 2007, only three electric utilities in the US had 30 or more megawatts of solar electricity on their grid.”) 

Aides say the solar panels will generate energy during the summer, when electricity demands reach their peak.

And the city wants to help lower the cost for building owners to retrofit their buildings.

Bloomberg will announce he’s creating a non-profit corporation that will make loans available to building owners who want to make energy-efficient upgrades to their property. Aides say the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation will partner with private lenders, as well as tap into about $40 million in federal stimulus funds.

Spurring green initiatives can be a boon to the economy, Bloomberg explained recently, when he appeared with former president Bill Clinton to announce they were formally joining forces on this issue. (The message was somewhat overshadowed when Clinton went off-script.)

The speech tomorrow is the latest effort by Bloomberg to make New York City more environmentally friendly. In this effort, he’s had some high-profile victories, along with a few defeats.

He’s introduced pedestrian plazas in Times Square and bike lanes throughout the city. Advocates have cheered both developments, while critics say they’re making vehicular traffic more cumbersome. 

The mayor led a well-orchestrated push for congestion pricing in New York City, that he said would help fund mass transit projects and reduce the number of cars — and pollution — in the city. The proposal was defeated in Albany when legislators refused to vote on it.

 In 2008, he considered — then backed away from — installing windmills on bridges and buildings.

A year later, Bloomberg backed away from plans to have buildings over 50,000 square feet “to undergo an audit to determine which renovations would make them more energy efficient.” Building owners said the renovations were just too expensive.

The next stop on Bloomberg’s green initiative push will come next month, when he attends the C40 meeting in Sao Paulo.