New York’s Clean Energy Transformation

Want to see the blueprint for a massive, unified effort to shift to a new, sustainable energy paradigm? Check out New York City, Environmental Defense Fund Director of Clean Energy Initiatives Rory Christian writes in a detailed blog post outlining the city’s comprehensive power strategy.

Among the highlights:

– Mayor Bill de Blasio calls for an 80 percent drop in carbon emissions by 2050.

– Con Edison enters year two of a four-year, $1 billion plan intended to minimize the impact of storms like Hurricane Sandy, one that prevented 25,000 outages in 2014.

– The state calls for more renewable energy (last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in solar projects with the goal of a ten-fold increase in statewide solar power by 2023, according to CNBC.com).

– The state calls more consumer control over energy costs and use (a demand response program pays customers to conserve energy when collective energy use spikes).

Another state-level program, a $14.5 million fund managed by the Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), hopes to foster technologies that reduce power plant greenhouse gas emissions, according to a statement from the organization.  This could include advanced controls for plants, boiler controls, advanced burners, turbine retrofits, waste-heat recovery, or in-facility electrical load reduction and efficiency improvements.

CNBC calls what’s happening in New York City a “solar renaissance,” highlighted by projects like the proposed Lowline Project, which will transform an old trolley terminal into an underground park powered by solar “remote skylights,” and buildings like the Atelier, a luxury condo development that generates 5 percent of its own energy through rooftop solar panels, cutting roughly $40,000 in utility costs.

New York still has a way to go. It’s solar capacity of 30 megawatts—enough to power more than 4,500 homes—while growing, is still dwarfed by Los Angeles’s 132 megawatt capacity.

But there’s room for the kind of optimism expressed by Christian, who predicts that in 2015 we’ll begin to see “early blossoms” from the city’s effort.

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