De Blasio Announces Community Solar Plan

Solar energy may soon make serious strides in New York City, thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

In celebration of Earth Day, Mayor de Blasio introduced the municipality’s new Solarize NYC plan to help make solar energy affordable. The announcement comes amidst a major statewide push for clean energy, and a number of successful developments in solar proliferation.

The new program allows communities to purchase solar power as blocs, saving between 10 and 20 percent. Officials hope that the initiative will encourage developers to sell panels to community groups, as individual properties often face difficulties in installing their own. New York City faces some of the highest energy costs in the country.

The city will use a loose definition for “communities,” which will include, among other items, neighborhoods, business districts and houses of worship. On a state level, New York has operatedseveral successful campaigns for community solarization, through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative. The NY-Sun program had a major victory earlier this week as it concluded its Long Island MW Block Program, which had met all its targets.

Governor Cuomo has fixed solar energy as a key point in his ongoing Reforming Energy Vision initiative, and NYC has followed suit. De Blasio has fought for clean energy as part of his OneNYC plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. Some 75 percent of NYC’s carbon footprint stems from its large and highly concentrated buildings, and officials have madeadvances in retrofitting over the past several months.

These efforts have entailed myriad plans to make clean energy more accessible. Earlier this week, the New York City Housing Authority, which provides apartments for over 400,000 low-income residents, announced it would introduce solar panels to its roofs as early as next year. By 2025, the agency hopes to utilize vendors to create a collection of solar panels enough to power 6,600 apartments.

Solarize NYC hopes to lend financial support, marketing material and technical assistance to interested communities. The municipality has set a target for 250 solar panel installations on private property by 2025.