FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 14, 2023
Council Member Nurse, De La Rosa, and others will introduce a bill ensuring that NYC achieves 150 megawatts of solar power by 2030 on city-owned buildings and public properties
New York, NY – On Thursday September 14th, Council Member Sandy Nurse, along with several other Council Members introduced legislation requiring New York City to accelerate solar energy installations on city-owned buildings and public properties. The bill mandates a goal of 100 Megawatts (MW) on city-owned buildings by 2025, and expands the target to 150MW on buildings and other public properties by 2030.
The bill was introduced just in time for Climate Week NYC, and demonstrates the Council’s clear commitment to addressing the climate crisis and investing in a just and clean energy future. The bill builds on and codifies previous goals outlined in OneNYC and again in the latest PlaNYC, to ensure the administration is on track to meet the city’s clean energy goals.
The City must be aggressive in urgently and equitably meeting our climate goals. NYC can catalyze good union labor jobs by leveraging federal opportunities to fund solar. The City can address environmental injustices by prioritizing investments in disadvantaged communities. The bill is supported by Climate Jobs New York and Climate Works for All.
“The climate crisis is truly at a breaking point and necessitates investments in solutions faster than we ever have before,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse. “It is madness to wait any longer to install solar power for clean renewable energy on NYC buildings. We must rapidly draw down our use of fossil fuels at every possible opportunity. Not doing so puts our city and entire younger generations in extreme danger.”
“Climate change’s effects are alarmingly more visible every day, and the longer we wait to act, the less of a chance we have to change the tides. New York City has the potential to lead the nation in carbon emission reduction and climate action while providing green union jobs to a labor market that is ready to work. This bill is one step in that direction,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa.
“We commend Council Member Nurse for taking the lead to codify the much needed goal of installing 100MW of solar systems on public buildings by 2025 and 150MW by 2030. This would help NYC rapidly scale up sustainable and reliable energy systems to meet the interrelated crises of climate change, public health, and social inequality” said Shravanthi Kanekal, Resiliency Planner at the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and co-coordinator of the Climate Works for All coalition.
“This is common-sense legislation that will create green union jobs, deliver renewable energy to communities citywide, and take another step forward in building Green, Healthy Schools,” said Lucas Shapiro, Interim Executive Director for ALIGN, co-coordinators of the Climate Works for All coalition. “Our relentless climate crisis demands urgency and action, and we are proud to work with CM Nurse to envision an equitable, sustainable future for our schools and all other public buildings across our city.”
“In the face of the climate crisis, our council is taking bold steps towards a cleaner, more resilient future. If passed, our city will produce 100 megawatts of clean electricity through solar photovoltaic systems on city buildings by 2025, and by 2030, we’ll reach 150 megawatts, proving that we’re committed to environmental stewardship even as others threaten our climate progress. We’re not just installing solar panels; we’re prioritizing environmental justice, ensuring that all communities have equal access to the benefits of clean energy, reduced energy costs, and green job opportunities, while also protecting workers’ rights with project labor agreements. This initiative represents a comprehensive commitment to a greener, fairer, and more sustainable city, and we invite everyone to join us in this transformative journey.” said Rami Dinnawi, Environmental Justice Campaign & Policy Manager at El Puente.
“Putting solar on the thousands of city-owned buildings will make New York City a leader in reducing our carbon footprint. If done right, this legislation could lead to the creation of thousands of good jobs and an entry into a lifetime career for young workers and workers of color,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of The New York State Building Trades and Principal Officer of Climate Jobs NY.
“Investing in clean energy to power our public buildings will reduce New York City’s energy costs while improving building energy efficiencies. New York can take advantage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the environmental bond act to help defray the cost of installing solar on our public buildings while creating thousands of good union jobs,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO and principal officer of Climate Jobs NY.
“We applaud Councilmember Nurse for introducing legislation to accelerate the transition to solar on New York’s public buildings prioritizing New York City’s public schools. This is an important first step in making every New York City public school building a clean and healthy place to learn and to work in addition to creating thousands of good union green jobs. Extreme weather events like the recent wildfires remind us how urgent it is we take immediate action for a just transition to renewable energy. Let’s invest in responsible solutions to build a sustainable and just future,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Executive Director of Climate Jobs NY.
“Maximizing public solar to power New York City is a critical component in bringing down our emissions and tackling the climate crisis. I’m proud to support Council Member Nurse and her legislation to bring more solar power to our public buildings,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler.
New York City can lead the way in the transition to a renewable energy future by prioritizing solar energy installation on city-owned buildings and other public properties. In 2014, the City announced the goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by 2050 (known as 80×50), and committed to installing 100 MW of solar energy on public buildings by 2025. The primary City agency responsible for our public sector transition to renewable energy is the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).
The DCAS Division of Energy Management leads the City’s energy conservation and sustainability efforts. According to the 2022 City of New York Municipal Solar Readiness Assessment report, DCAS oversees more than 10,000 utility accounts for city government agencies across 4,000 public buildings. It implements creative solutions to reduce energy consumption, promote energy efficiency in public buildings, and to generate clean energy on City-owned properties.
This is a moment New York City can go big—enlisting federal, state and city support and building on earlier work to put solar on some New York City schools, public land, parking lots, industrial facilities, and more. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) includes over $350 billion of investment in clean energy and climate change mitigation, and extended the renewable energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to municipal governments for the first time in history. Furthermore, the City can use energy savings from these solar installations to reinvest into our communities.
New York City buildings also need investments to become “solar-ready,” for example many school buildings are in need of basic repairs and upgrades, including deteriorating rooftops and outdated electrical grids. School buildings should be healthy and safe for students and staff and be a model for carbon free buildings in the effort to combat climate change.
As of July 2022, DCAS has a total installed solar photovoltaic capacity of 16.7 MW across 115 city-owned buildings, with another 46.3 MW of solar capacity currently in development. While New York City has made progress in meeting solar targets, there is more work to be done to ensure we are leading in the transition to a renewable energy future and centering workers and communities.
About Council Member Sandy Nurse: Council Member Nurse, of the 37th District in Brooklyn, serves as Chair of the Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee. Sandy is the founder of BK ROT, a co-founder of the Mayday Space, a direct action organizer, and a carpenter. Sandy is committed to fighting for a transition away from the fossil fuel economy, and demanding our public agencies and servants are accountable to the people, not corporations. She fights to keep people in their homes, create protections for our immigrant neighbors, and help to build a healthy, sustainable future. She represents the neighborhoods of Cypress Hills, Bushwick, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, and East New York.
The Climate Works for All is a coalition of labor, community, faith, environmental justice, and climate organizations that have come together to fight climate change and inequality in NYC by demanding a Just Transition for workers and Environmental Justice communities. Our campaigns move us towards an equitable economy, a resilient, livable and healthy climate, and must prioritize justice for low income Black and Brown communities across New York City.
Climate Jobs NY (CJNY) is a growing coalition of labor unions representing 2.6 million working men and women at the center of New York’s economy. We are united around a shared goal of combating climate change while reversing income inequality. CJNY’s mission is to advocate for a clean energy economy at the scale climate science demands, create good union jobs, and support more equitable communities and a more resilient New York. Climate Jobs NY is leading the Carbon Free and Healthy Schools Initiative, which advocates for New York City to transition all of the New York City public schools to solar power and enact other energy efficiency measures and physical plant improvements to ensure that all of New York’s public schools are healthy and energy efficient places to learn and to work.