Bloomberg | Sept. 29, 2014 – New York City will spend $23 million to install solar-paneled roofs on 24 public schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The installations will triple the amount of sun power currently gathered on city-owned buildings, the mayor said today at a news briefing. The total investment will be about $28 million, with $5 million coming from state grants under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative.

Standing outside John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx, one of the first schools to rely on solar energy to power its classrooms, de Blasio told reporters that the shift to renewable energy isn’t only a way to support new technology and save money, but a “moral imperative” as well.

“It’s the right thing to do for our children and grandchildren,” de Blasio said, noting that the panels will generate 6.25 megawatts of power. “With the help of our partners at the state government, we’re one step closer today to handing off a planet that will be a safe place for future generations.”

The announcement comes about a week after New York City became the largest municipality to commit to a goal of reducing greenhouse emissions from public and private buildings 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels. De Blasio, 53, a self-described progressive Democrat, was elected last year by the biggest margin by a non-incumbent in city history.

10-Year Goal

De Blasio set a goal of developing 100 megawatts of solar power on public buildings and 250 megawatts on private properties in 10 years. That would generate 1 percent of the city’s electricity, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by an estimated 35,000 metric tons a year, he said. If private targets aren’t met, de Blasio said he would prod building owners to invest in solar power through incentives and mandates.

At JFK High School, the panel installations will coincide with an environmental curriculum that will allow students to track in real time the amount of energy the system generates and the impact it has on emission reduction.

The panels, which generate energy even in overcast conditions, can help during natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. The 2012 storm knocked out power for more than 2 million New York households, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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