The Council of the City of New York
Office of Council Member Costa Constantinides
For Immediate Release
February 24, 2016
Contact: Shachar Sharon
City Council Passes Constantinides Bill to Encourage Solar Energy
Under this bill, the city will provide biennial online reports on all city buildings that identify which buildings are solar-ready. The reports will analyze the feasibility of installing roof-top solar panels, the estimated energy that would be generated, the carbon emissions that would be reduced, as well as the amount of solar power and energy production that were cost effectively installed on city-owned buildings since the previous reporting period. Cost effectiveness will consider utility bill savings as well as long-term societal impact of carbon emissions. For each building on which a solar photovoltaic system has not been installed, the city will report the reasons why one was not installed, which can include alternate sustainability projects.
These cost-benefit estimates will provide greater transparency into the feasibility of installing solar panels on city buildings, including schools. This will help private property owners understand the potential utility savings and construction costs of solar panel systems if they wish to install in their own homes.
Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and primary sponsor of the bill, said, “The online reports on feasibility and cost of installing solar panels on city buildings required in this bill will encourage use of solar energy. The reporting of the decisions behind whether to install solar systems will increase transparency on our city’s use of renewable energy. The online reports will include cost-benefit estimates, which will be useful for private property owners who are interested in installing solar panels on their own homes. They’ll be able to save green by going green. This policy will help bring us closer toward our goal of increasing solar capacity and decreasing our carbon emissions 80% by 2050. I thank my City Council colleagues, as well as the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, for their partnership on helping us reach this goal.”
In the One City: Built to Last plan, the city administration set a goal of increasing solar capacity on city-owned property to 100 MW by 2025. In his State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio committed to increasing solar capacity on city buildings fivefold over the next three years to 25 MW, enough to power more than 6,000 New York City households. The city owns over 4,000 buildings, including public schools, public hospitals, libraries, courthouses, wastewater treatment facilities, firehouses, offices, police precincts and park recreation centers. These buildings account for 65% of the city government’s total carbon footprint.
Constantinides has made sustainability and environmental protection a top priority. In 2014, the City Council passed his bill, now Local Law 66 of 2014, to reduce our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Last year, the City Council passed his bill, now Local Law 6 of 2016, that encourages use of geothermal energy. This bill marked the first time in city history that the long-term impact of carbon emissions will be considered as part of a city cost-efficiency analysis. Constantinides has also introduced bills that encourage the use of biofuels and that would study the environmental and health impacts of our policies on low-income communities.
“Since the beginning of this session, the Council has been pushing to make New York greener and more sustainable, as part of our effort to reduce carbon emissions by 80% before the year 2050,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “With this legislation to introduce solar power to city buildings across the five boroughs, we’re taking another step in that direction.”
Nilsa Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said, “Introduction 478-A reinforces New York City’s commitment to clean distributed energy and improved air quality. This bill will enable City decision-makers to collect important information to support our clean energy strategy while making it more transparent to the public. I applaud Council Member Constantinides and the Committee on Environmental Protection for their leadership on sustainability and for working with the Administration to advance the Mayor’s goal of installing 100 MW of solar power on City-owned buildings by 2025.”
Environmental advocates voiced support for the bill.
Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters said, “The City’s goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar capacity on more than 300 City-owned rooftops over the next ten years begins with the passage of Intro 478. This bill will allow us to efficiently identify all solar-ready buildings across a diverse portfolio of more than 4,000 buildings. We applaud the City Council and Environmental Protection Committee Chair Costa Constantinides for their steadfast leadership to ensure we’re taking all of the incremental steps necessary today that will help us achieve our long term goals tomorrow.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.