On Thursday, January 27, the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer spoke in front of a 3 KW set of solar panels on Hunter College of the City University to promote his “Rooftop Revolution” campaign and the New York Solar Jobs Act. “On this rooftop and on rooftops across this city we can create the economy we need,” said Stringer. The panels on Hunter are a result of a three-year student-led initiative, and for Stringer, the panels symbolize what could be a city-wide program of solar installations on public schools.
Why schools? In 2012, schools will represent 27.5 percent of the City’s electricity budget and solar will eventually bring down the cost. There are also educational benefits, argues the Rooftop Revolution report, including “sustainable energy” and “math-related topics.”
Sustainable CUNY’s NYC Solar Map indicates that solar on 1,094 public NYC schools could generate 196.3 MWs of electricity. Currently, there are only 6.5 MWs of solar generation in New York City altogether. Panels on every city roof would generate half the City’s peak energy supply, according to CUNY’s findings.
A key funding mechanism of the plan is called Power Purchase Agreements, which consist of public/private projects in which companies profit from eventual energy savings. The strategy has been implemented in school districts such as in Portland, Oregon and Montgomery County, Maryland.
Additional funding ideas from the campaign include reallocations of the State’s RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard), which is a fund collected in monthly energy rates. It was found that Con Ed rate payers (in NYC and Westchester) pay over 1/3rd of the RPS and that over 90% goes outside of New York City. “Upstate gets all this money,” said Stringer. “New York City gets crumbs.”
Going beyond the City, the campaign involves promotion of the New York Solar Jobs Act, which could pass in the legislature this June. The legislation mandates energy providers and utilities to buy solar renewable energy credits (SRECS), a system active specifically in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region. However, the Rooftop Revolution report insists that as opposed to SRECs, “feed-in tarrifs must also be given serious consideration.”
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