New York Subway System Seeks Solar Up On Its Roofs

The roof of the Coney Island Maintenance Facility with solar panel renderings. Photo: MTA

The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced yesterday that it is launching a new initiative that, if successful, will generate both revenue and renewable, emission-free electricity by leasing millions of square feet of industrial roof space to companies interested in generating solar power.  The MTA’s first request for proposals to develop this power covers 7 large buildings as solar sites and would generate approximately 6.5 megawatts of power.

The MTA through its operations already averts annual greenhouse gas emissions of more 17 million metric tons, but this will allow them to contribute even further to reducing the region’s emissions.  In a synergistic move, last week, New York City set an ambitious new standard for combating greenhouse gas emissions by requiring massive reductions in energy usage in big buildings, which are the top polluters in the city.  The City Council’s new rules are expected “to cut greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings by 40 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030—about 26 percent below current levels,” according to Inside Climate News The new plan also encourages more solar development on the rooves of private buildings.

Why This Matters: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in large cities like New York is critical to meeting our Paris targets — and many cities like New York remain committed to achieving those reductions.  But more than that, building solar fields in the city will create jobs in urban as opposed to isolated rural areas, which are more typically where solar has been developed.  By taking these actions, New York City will be a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will provide a template for other cities to followThere is plenty of space for solar in the city — up on the roof!

What You Can Do:  If you live in a city, challenge your elected representatives to enact similar greenhouse gas cutting initiatives.  Reducing emissions from buildings, and putting rooftops to work by generating clean solar power is a win-win.

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