Letting the Sun Shine In Solar Power in the Big Apple

From paying $15 to travel 10 gridlocked blocks in a taxi to shelling out about $10 for a kosher deli sandwich, New Yorkers are used to paying through the nose for the privilege of living in their beloved city. But the dollars really add up, and they don’t stop at transportation and entertainment. Fuel prices continue to climb as well, and as city dwellers are forced to pay more and more to heat, cool, and power their homes, real estate developers and building administrators are looking for alternative ways to power their buildings while saving themselves and their residents money.

Uniquely Expensive

The sheer expense of living here—along with today’s movement of “going green”—has encouraged more and more buildings to look at solar power as a possible solution to both the energy and financial crunch so many are experiencing.

“Currently there is actually about two megawatts of solar potential installed in New York City,” says Erik Nevala-Lee, program coordinator with GreenHomeNYC, an environmental organization dedicated to promoting green policies and products in the city’s residential buildings. “It’s split about 50/50 between private development (residential and commercial) and institutional buildings.”

According to Nevala-Lee, as recently as 2005, there were about 45 photovoltaic projects in New York City generating a total of just 1.1 MW. Clearly, solar’s reach is expanding. So much so in fact that the U.S. Department of Energy designated New York City a Solar America City in the spring of 2008 and awarded the city funding and technical assistance for more solar programming.

How Does it Work?

Solar power, which is the end product of solar electric or photovoltaic technology, has a number of serious benefits, including: a minimal impact on the environment, while utilizing the sun’s abundant energy. Captured-and-stored photovoltaic energy can be used in a multitude of ways, in small residential homes to large commercial industrial businesses, and everywhere in between.

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