PlaNYC: Foster the Market For Renewable Energy

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One interesting case study in the mayor’s plan is the real-time pricing of electricity. According to research done at Carnegie Mellon University, Americans would save nearly $23 billion a year if they shifted just 7% of their usage during peak hours to less expensive times – the equivalent of the whole nation getting a free month of power every year.

The peak hours for electricity consumption in New York City also happen to be at a time when we are basking in sunlight. Therefore it would be a smart policy to promote the use of solar energy, and that is exactly what the mayor’s plan is calling for:

Of all the renewable energy sources, solar currently has the greatest potential to generate electricity within the five boroughs. The technology is commercially available, our abundant roofs offer ample space for panels, and solar energy is most available when the city needs it most-during hot, sunny days. Estimates of solar potential by Columbia University, the City University of New York, and NYSERDA range from 6,000 MW to over 15,000 MW, with one study claiming solar can contribute 18% of peak load by 2022.

To ensure solar meets its long-term potential to contribute more significantly to our supply, we must employ a range of strategies to develop a more competitive market. In order to spur the market in the private sector and help achieve needed economies of scale to bring down prices, New York City will offer a property tax abatement for solar installations. The incentive will cover 35% of installation costs for the first three years of the program, with the incentive scaling back to 20% in years four and five. The graduated structure of this incentive will grant early adopters greater benefits, ensuring that a market is established.

In addition, the City will study the cost-effectiveness of solar electricity when evaluated under a Real Time Pricing scenario. The City will also support the construction of the city’s first carbon neutral building. This building, located along the East River, will be powered primarily by solar energy.

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