NYC Creates ‘Solar Empowerment Zones’

by | Jun 9, 2010

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New York City has created three “Solar Empowerment Zones” within the city to encourage the adoption of solar powered energy generation, according to a press release by Sustainable CUNY, the City University of New York’s sustainability initiative.

The city designated three areas in Staten Island, Downtown Brooklyn and Greenpoint as “Solar Empowerment Zones” based on the geographical regions where solar power is most viable from a technical standpoint.

Within these zones, the city will provide data monitoring systems, t echnical assistance and assistance with maneuvering through incentives, streamlining the permitting process.

In 2007 New York City was selected as a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America City and began implement a strategic plan developed by the NYC Solar America City Partnership led by Sustainable CUNY, and comprised of CUNY , the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability. Building on early progress, New York City was awarded over $1 million in January of 2010 from the U.S. D OE and NYSERDA to implement the Smart Solar City Plan.

Currently, there are over 3.5 mW of solar capacity installed on New York City rooftops, according to the press release, as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative, with plans to roll out additional capacity. The city recently completed an effort to provide an aerial map of the city’s solar capacity.

Each of the three initial zones has a “day-peaking” energy usage profile that conforms to the daily production of solar power. The three zones are also in need of capacity upgrades and/or demand reduction measures over the next few years in order to meet expected load growth. Each zone has a significant amount of rooftop square footage to accommodate solar installations.

Targeted solar power development in the three Empowerment Zones could play a role in reducing peak demand—and associated pollution from dirty peaking plants—while also potentially deferring or eliminating the need for upgrades to the electrical system that would increase electricity rates.

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