New York governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday and announced an even greater commitment to clean energy, including $1 billion in new funding for solar energy projects.
Launched in 2012, Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative has already been a tremendous success, with almost 300 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic capacity installed or under development, more than was installed in the entire decade prior to the program.
Now with another major financial boost, Cuomo aims to install 3,000 (MW) of solar across New York.
“That’s enough solar to power 465,000 New York homes, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2.3 million tons annually — the equivalent of taking almost 435,000 cars off the road — and create more than 13,000 new solar jobs,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In addition to the ten-year financial boost for NY-Sun, Cuomo announced a new program entitled K-Solar, which will incentivize the deployment of solar energy by using the state’s 5,000 schools as “demonstration hubs” to increase the number of solar energy projects in their surrounding communities.
The governor also unveiled the $40 million NY Prize competition, which will bolster community microgrids in the state, helping to make the electrical grid more resilient in the face of increasing extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy. Additionally, Renewable Heat NY will seek to utilize private sector investment to boost biomass heating as a cheaper, renewable alternative to home heating oil.
As Cuomo’s impressive commitment to clean energy pays off in the state’s rapidly growing solar industry, NRDC notes that not only is NY-Sun expanding the marketplace, it has also served to “to drive down the cost of installed solar power by establishing new, cost-effective and efficient practices and technologies.”
Thanks to this suite of forward-thinking policies, New York has skyrocketed through the U.S. solar rankings.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “with enough solar to power more than 30,900 homes, New York currently ranks 12th in the country for installed solar capacity. There are more than 411 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in New York, employing more than 3,300 people.”
And those figures are on the rise. An analysis of clean energy jobs created in the third quarter of 2013 ranked New York third in the U.S., behind only California and Nevada.
On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Freshkills Park on Staten Island, once the world’s largest landfill, will soon be converted into the city’s largest solar energy facility.
Once completed, the plant will produce up to 10 megawatts of power — five times more than any solar energy system in the city and enough to power approximately 2,000 homes.
“We’ll be turning something which was a disaster into a benefit for the people of Staten Island, and for the environment,” said James Molinaro, Staten Island Borough President and major supporter of the project.
The installation will span 47 acres and will consist of up to 35,000 high-efficiency solar panels, installed and operated by Sun Edison at no cost to the city.
And New York isn’t stopping with renewable energy on the city’s former dump.
According to the city, “the administration is moving forward with steps to officially map an additional 1,500 acres of Freshkills into parkland, officially bringing the total for Freshkills Park to 2,200 acres and bringing total parkland in New York City to more than 30,000 acres for the first time in history.”
The parkland will be mapped for a variety of uses and will have a provision for specific renewable energy sites, which will expedite and streamline the construction of the solar plant and potentially other renewable energy projects.
“I’m certain that eventually we’ll have some windmills up there,” Molinaro said.
Fostering the market for renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are two key components of Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, released in 2007 and focused on making America’s largest city more resilient to the damaging effects of climate change.
Outside of the city, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a major proponent of solar energy, launching his successful NY-Sun initiative in 2012. Lawmakers are currently seeking a 10-year extension of NY-Sun, and while the legislative session expired before two versions of the bill could be reconciled this year, supporters are confident Cuomo will be able to sign the extension in the coming year.
The Taxi of Tomorrow is most likely coming to New York City. As it stands, on October 28th, all new non-hybrid taxis in the city will be a Nissan NV200, though there are still those opposing the program. New York, get ready for a Nissan invasion.
The Nissan NV200 is more of a van than a traditional sedan that is routinely used as cabs, and was the winner of the Taxi of Tomorrow contest. The Nissan NV200 was designed from the inside out using input from New York taxi drivers, medallion holders, and passengers. The NV200 vehicles offer interesting features such as more space for passengers, increased cargo room, and even a transparent roof so passengers can look up at the city. An electric version is even in the works specifically for taxi and delivery use.
So how is the NV200 on gas mileage? Well, about 24 miles per gallon in the city, which isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. The NV200 will only be replacing non-hybrid cabs in the city however, and some NYC taxi driver operators aren’t happy with being told what to buy.
Lawsuits to prevent implementation of the Taxi of Tomorrow have been filed, claiming the vehicle is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because it is not wheelchair accessible, although the Nissan NV200 can be retrofitted. Additionally, a few NYC taxi fleets have planned to retire their current no- hybrid cabs early and purchase new cabs that are not Nissan NV200s, likely using the old Crown Vics for as long as possible. With these new cabs in operation before the deadline, implementation of the 3 to 5 year plan could take much longer.
So why all the fuss over the NV200s? Well historically it seems that any change that impacts the The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade is met with opposition – these are the guys who fought mandatory air conditioning in cabs. Concerning the NV200, it is one part money and one part politics. The Greater New York Taxi Association, a group of medallion owners that oppose the plan, is flat-out accusing NYC of exceeding its authority by mandating that operators buy a Taxi of Tomorrow. They don’t want to be told what cars they have to buy, and they have a point.
As for politics, Bloomberg is on his way out of office, so any delay of the Taxi of Tomorrow implementation by a court of law could push the project off to the next administration, where it might get struck down or just lose traction and fall flat. The kicker here is that the Taxi of Tomorrow was selected by taxi operators and users. People who use cab services want this vehicle!
The good news is the people will most likely get what they want; even with the opposition mass production of Nissan NV200 began in August at Nissan’s assembly plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico. That is a good indication that the vehicles will soon hit the roads. As October 28th approaches keep your eyes open in NYC, your next ride could be in a Taxi of Tomorrow.
Aside from his full-time duties as the Mayor of the largest city in the United States, his tireless work on the C40 Cities initiative, and countless other good causes and charities, Mayor Mike apparently spends much of his time transforming run-down parts of the city into artistic and park-like settings for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
For over a century the East River was rows upon rows of chemical plants, coal or oil-fired power plants, fish processing plants, ugly warehouse buildings and the Navy Yard. Which, in a rapidly growing city, was perfectly normal business for a couple of centuries…
But Mike Bloomberg decided that part of his mandate was to turn those obscenely ugly and heavily-contaminated landscapes into beautiful park settings for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors to NYC.
Let me be the first to say that Mayor Bloomberg has shown amazing vision and leadership — and combined with his contact list of angel investors — vision and leadership has turned into reality, and if anything seems to be gathering momentum.
This artist rendering shows what the view will be like from the rooftop of the first image in this article.
It just shows what can be done when a visionary and determined person gains political office. Many such projects have begun, are presently in-progress, or have already completed, during the stewardship of Mike Bloomberg.
From obscenely contaminated, ugly and dangerous industrial wastelands, to world class, open city spaces which are a joy for all who visit. What’s not to like?
“All across the waterfront, we are reclaiming and renewing areas that have long been abandoned or neglected, and Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse are the latest examples of that work,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “These redevelopment plans will bring even more new life and excitement to the DUMBO waterfront at Brooklyn Bridge Park, giving residents and visitors more places to work, shop, dine, and experience the arts.”
“Much like the recently announced John Street development deal, these plans represent yet another critical step toward securing the long-term financial stability of Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Chairman Robert K. Steel. “This investment will ensure additional office, retail and cultural space that will strengthen this public-private partnership while adding additional park amenities that will promote healthy economic development in Dumbo, an already burgeoning arts and technology hub.”
“Brooklyn Bridge Park is a prime example of our city’s commitment to sustainable design and development,” said Veronica M. White,Parks and Recreation Commissioner. “The transformation of these formerly vacant stores will open up usable space for the community, and help to ensure that the park will continue to be well maintained for years to come.”
“This is an historic moment for Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “In addition to securing the park’s financial stability, these long vacant warehouses allow us to recognize the important part our park plays in the history of the Brooklyn waterfront. We are also thrilled to be moving forward on re-energizing the Tobacco Warehouse and integrating even more new parkland into the northern portion of the park. The development of Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse will be a boon to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the larger DUMBO community, creating a new “it” space and showcasing some of the best that Brooklyn has to offer locals and out-of-towners alike. I hope this project will result in much-needed commercial space for Brooklyn’s growing creative economy. I am further pleased to see that St. Ann’s Warehouse, which I have long been investment proud to support, will benefit from this agreement with a quality performance space for artists and arts-lovers alike. Truly this promises to help all of Brooklyn prosper and reinforce our borough’s pre-eminence in the creative and technological arenas.”
The Tobacco Warehouse Theater and surrounding area is a good example of an unwanted building turned into a useful and welcome space.
“Having activated found spaces for cultural use in Brooklyn since we began in 1980, we are excited to be able to do so once more—this time making a permanent home for the arts and community events in one of the city’s most awe-inspiring locales,” said St. Ann’s Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman. “We look forward to transforming the Tobacco Warehouse into a welcoming place where artists, audience members, city residents and visitors can gather all year long.”
“We are thrilled about this opportunity to realize our longstanding dream to rebuild the Tobacco Warehouse as a home for St. Ann’s Warehouse,” said Joseph S. Steinberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Ann’s Warehouse.
“St. Ann’s Warehouse is one New York City’s most exciting performing arts organizations dedicated to bringing cutting-edge work from all over the world to adventurous audiences,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin. “We are delighted that with today’s vote the Tobacco Warehouse will be an iconic home for the organization, artists and visitors. We also look forward to opening new exhibition space that will be an exciting new destination to learn about the borough’s dynamic past, present and future.”
The Prime Developer of the project is Midtown Equities. Midtown Equities is a privately held real estate investment and development company that is headquartered in New York. With a portfolio of more than 100 properties in the retail, office, residential, industrial and hospitality sectors, the firm actively acquires, develops and leases properties ranging from urban redevelopment projects to commercial centers. With a focus on prime retail properties, Midtown Equities maintains holdings in urban markets including New York, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as abroad.