BY TRONE DOWD
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced on Friday that the agency will invest in a new solar power infrastructure for 14 housing developments throughout the five boroughs.
The announcement, made by NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Director Mark Chambers, is just the latest of many initiatives meant to transition the city towards sustainable, clean energy usage. According to a statement, the “large-scale program” will provide “low to moderate-income New Yorkers, including public housing residents, access to clean, low-cost energy throughout the city.” It will also contribute to the city’s goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
“New York’s largest landlord is ready to lead the charge on renewable energy,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “With this unprecedented investment, the city is reducing its carbon footprint and building more resilient communities for the 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home. We are fulfilling our commitment to strengthen public housing for years to come.”
According to Olatoye, the program will not only bring the environmentally friendly power alternative to the city’s densest developments, but it will also create jobs in the growing industry of solar power.
A total of four Queens developments are set to receive the installations— Beach 41st Street Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways, Queensbridge North and Queensbridge South in Long Island City and Pomonok Houses in Flushing.
NYCHA is currently in the process of hiring a developer to install at least 25 megawatts of solar capacity per development by 2025. This plan would power 6,600 homes.
“NYCHA is an indispensable part of the city’s climate plan as the largest residential landlord,” Olatoye said. “Today, we are taking an important first step towards putting solar power within reach for thousands of working families, which is essential to achieving NextGeneration NYCHA’s goal of creating safe, clean and connected communities. We’re changing the way we do business to protect future generations and improve quality of life for the one in 14 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home.”
As of this year, NYCHA leaders said that they have already identified 190 sites to install solar capacity over the next seven years.
In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo buoyed a three-story, 5,500 solar panel facility at JFK Airport Park. The project is currently the largest in the borough, producing 1.8 million kilowatt-hours each year, which is enough to power more than 244 households year-round.
Proposals are due on Jan. 8. NYCHA said that it would select developers for the project within the first quarter of 2018. The first solar installations are expected by 2019.