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First Large-Scale Solar Program at NYCHA

Installing solar power at 14 developments; goal is to install 25 megawatts of solar capacity, which would power up to 6,600 households, by 2025

The de Blasio Administration has announced the launch of its first large-scale solar program at NYCHA, which will provide low to moderate-income New Yorkers, including public housing residents, access to clean, low-cost energy throughout the city and jobs in the growing solar industry. The Authority has issued its first Request for Proposals, seeking developers to install solar power at 14 developments throughout the five boroughs. NYCHA’s goal is to install 25 megawatts of solar capacity, which would power up to 6,600 households, by 2025. This builds upon the expansion of solar installations in New York, which has quadrupled under the Mayor’s leadership. 

NYCHA’s solar program will be instrumental in meeting the city’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. It will also contribute to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Renew300 initiative, whose goal is to install 300MW of renewable energy capacity at federally assisted housing by 2020. 

“New York’s largest landlord is ready to lead the charge on renewable energy. 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,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“NYCHA is an indispensable part of the City’s climate plan as the largest residential landlord,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “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 1 in 14 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home.”

“NYCHA’s ambitious renewable energy plan is a smart public private partnership that will catalyze economic growth, save taxpayers money, and promote financial self-sufficiency,” said Lynne Patton, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. “Solar power will both lower utility costs and create high-skilled jobs for residents.”

“Reaching the City's climate goals requires a dramatic increase in the use of renewable energy, a transition that is well underway,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer for the Office of the Mayor. “Today's announcement by NYCHA demonstrates more of the kind of leadership that we need as we continue to pursue the goals of the Paris Agreement and achieve our own greenhouse gas emission reduction targets on the path to building a more sustainable, more resilient, and more equitable city.”

“NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in North America and their bold action today has both the vision and scale to truly drive NYC reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “I applaud NYCHA for their continued climate work and invaluable partnership in creating a more just and sustainable NYC."

“Today’s announcement is an exciting step forward in the City’s efforts to expand access to clean, low-cost energy and more green jobs for New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “As a member of the NYC Solar Partnership, NYCEDC has long supported the installation of solar energy across the city, and we congratulate NYCHA in taking this monumental step towards greater sustainability."

“I’m glad this solar program is finally happening at NYCHA buildings and that the city is progressing and moving towards renewable energy,” said Miguel Rodriguez, a Lillian Wald Houses resident who has worked in the solar industry through NYCHA’s Green City Force partnership. “This is going to make a huge difference within our communities.”

NYCHA is innovating and changing the way it does business as part of its long-term strategic plan NextGeneration NYCHA. Since the release of its Sustainability Agenda last year, NYCHA has been working with government and private sector partners to provide better service for residents, reduce energy and costs, and curb the effects of climate change. This investment also helps NYCHA achieve deeper emission cuts, and supports their progress in the NYC Carbon Challenge, a voluntary effort to reduce  emissions by 30 percent or more over 10 years.
Supported by Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York and the consulting firm ICF, NYCHA evaluated more than 2,500 rooftops to determine potential solar capacity, considering factors such as the age and condition of the roof, usable roof space, height, and shading. The Authority also looked at parking lots, where solar canopies could be placed over the parking area. Based on these criteria, NYCHA identified 190 developments for large-scale solar development, which will be grouped into several RFP batches and released over the next 7 years.

This first RFP, which includes 14 developments, calls for the installation of two to six megawatts of solar capacity, which is equivalent to powering between 500 and 1,600 households. NYCHA will lease the sites, which include both rooftops and parking lots, for up to 25 years. The solar developer(s) will install, operate and maintain the solar systems and sell the power to low to moderate-income residents throughout the city. 

NYCHA is committed to providing job opportunities to its residents, and this RFP provides an opportunity to build career pathways in a growing industry. The Authority included workforce development as a key factor for selecting solar developers.

“Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York is proud to have partnered with NYCHA to develop a program that is specifically tailored to provide access to solar, as well as job opportunities for New York’s low- and moderate-income renters,” said Tria Case, University Director of Sustainability at CUNY and lead of the NYC Solar Partnership. "Having led the effort since 2006 to unlock the solar market through the NYC Solar Partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, CUNY’s NYC solar ombudsmen are pleased to be providing the technical analysis and guidance for NYCHA’s solar program."

“Community shared solar is booming across the United States precisely because it can be tailored to meet the needs and priorities of different areas and customer demographics, whether in dense urban housing projects or remote small towns,” said Tanuj Deora, Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer of the Smart Electric Power Alliance. “NYCHA’s ambitious program also demonstrates the range of benefits a well-designed community solar program can provide, from economic development and job training, to cost savings for low- and middle-income families. Hopefully, this program will inspire other communities to see solar as a cost-effective, positive option, and well within their reach.”

“Installing solar power at NYCHA developments will help us reduce pollution and save money,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee.  “By leasing rooftops and parking lots to developers to maintain solar power systems, we’re moving closer towards our goal of reducing our city’s emissions 80% by 2050. These types of public-private partnerships will help our city remain a global leader on sustainability and environmental protection.”

“I applaud NYCHA for launching this solar power initiative, which will create jobs for residents in a growing solar industry,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Committee on Public Housing. “These solar panels will help reduce the carbon footprint of public housing residents and fits with New York City’s ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Proposals are due January 8th, 2018, and NYCHA expects to select developers during the first quarter of 2018. The first solar installations are expected by 2019 in the following developments: 

  • Queensbridge North
  • Queensbridge South
  • Taylor Street-Wythe Avenue
  • Pomonok
  • Beach 41st Street-Beach Channel Drive
  • Carleton Manor
  • Coney Island Site 1B
  • Throggs Neck Addition
  • New Lane Area
  • South Beach
  • Taft
  • Polo Grounds Towers
  • Wyckoff Gardens
  • Gowanus