NYC installing solar at nearly 50 public schools, other facilities


New York City and state officials selected two developers to install rooftop solar at nearly 50 public schools and build solar projects at four city-owned water treatment facilities. The solar arrays will total about 22 MW, and several of the projects are expected to include energy storage systems.

Following a competitive bidding process announced last June, the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) tapped Houston-based ENGIE North America and Massachusetts-based Ameresco as project developers.

The rooftop solar installations are currently planned for 47 NYC Department of Education (DOE) buildings across all five boroughs; the city will buy the on-site energy. The projects are expected to enter service through 2022.

ENGIE will design, construct, own, and operate the solar PV systems at the school sites; Ameresco will perform the same tasks at the water treatment sites. NYPA, acting as clean energy advisor, will administer the 20-year power purchase agreements for the city and manage the installation process to ensure the projects stay on budget and on time.

Carbon emissions from public schools account for nearly one-third of emissions from the city government’s building portfolio. Adding solar to schools is expected to help cut emissions, and provide opportunities for students to learn about sustainability and climate action.

Lisette Camilo, commissioner of the DCAS, said, “Our schools are not only tackling climate change in the classroom, but also on the rooftop.”

Solar for water

At the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Wards Island water treatment plant (considered part of Manhattan Island), a combination of ground-mounted, carport, rooftop, and elevated canopy solar PV systems totaling more than 7 MW will be installed across the eight-building complex. Solar power generated will serve the plant’s load, and a battery energy storage system will reduce peak energy demand.

An additional 1.5 MW of solar capacity is expected to be installed at three other city-owned water treatment plants in Westchester, Delaware, and Ulster counties. DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza called the department’s campus-style facilities “unique and prime real estate” for large-scale solar.

The initiatives will help meet New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal of having 70% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, and achieving an 85% reduction in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It will also help drive NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of installing 100 MW of solar power on public buildings by 2025 and reducing citywide emissions 80% by 2050.

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