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City seeks developers to create solar roofs for schools

NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Lisette Camilo and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced the planned installation of up to 16 megawatts of solar energy on the rooftops of 46 New York City public schools and several New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sites, including its Wards Island Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility.

“The climate crisis is real and it’s urgent, that is why the City of New York is taking bold steps to generate solar power on city buildings, including some public schools,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

“Solar installations on the roofs of schools and other city facilities is a common-sense way to generate green energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”

Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, added, “Integrating solar systems into community facilities throughout the five boroughs and turning underutilized spaces into green opportunities is a smart way to practice sustainability and push forward our long-term commitment to help build a cleaner, greener energy system for all New Yorkers.”

The City of New York sought NYPA’s assistance with the installation of approximately 16 megawatts of power generated by solar installations on rooftops of some of its facilities.

The city enlisted NYPA’s support on this initiative to help achieve Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of installing 100 MW of solar power on public buildings by 2025 and reducing citywide emissions 80 percent by 2050

The initiative will also help achieve Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s statewide goal of having 70 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.

NYPA is asking developers to submit proposals to design, construct, and own solar PV systems at 50 city-owned sites.

NYPA will select the developers, manage the project, and arrange 20-year power purchase agreements for DCAS and DEP to buy the electricity output from each of the projects at competitive prices. The due date for responding to the request for proposals (RFP) is August 7, 2020. 

The solar systems, which have the option of including energy storage, are planned to be constructed on 46 schools run by the NYC Department of Education and account for approximately 11 megawatts of new power generation.

Several sites managed by DEP, including the Wards Island plant along the East River in upper Manhattan, will account for the additional five megawatts. 

Wars Island waste water plant

At Wards Island, a combination of ground mounted, carport, rooftop, and elevated canopy solar PV systems will be installed throughout the eight-facility complex, totaling up to 4,843kWDC of solar PV capacity. Power generated will serve the loads of the plant and a potential battery energy storage system which could reduce demand charges. 


As part of the overall project, more than one megawatt of solar arrays will also be installed at the Catskill/Delaware ultraviolet light disinfection facility in Valhalla and at wastewater resource recovery facilities in Pine Hill and Margaretville. 

The project will incorporate a new power source into the school district’s infrastructure and allow the city to purchase power generated on-site instead of purchasing power from a utility, which may or may not be from a renewable source.

In total, the project is estimated to offset more than 4,500 metric tons of CO2 equivalent each year, which is equivalent to removing more than 950 cars from the road for one year. 

The solar systems will accelerate progress under the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), the most ambitious emissions-reduction legislation in the nation, which calls for 6,000 megawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030 and also support the state mandate for a 100 percent carbon-free electricity sector by 2040.

Somers Middle School

The city and the Power Authority conducted site assessments to identify the most feasible and appropriate locations to install solar PV systems.

Selected locations also support the city’s efforts to advance environmental justice as many of the sites are in areas with poorer air quality and lower median incomes.

The project sites are anticipated to be interconnected behind the meter to buildings’ electrical systems. 

Development work on the projects is anticipated to commence later this year when a developer(s) is selected. Operation of the systems is expected to come online throughout 2021 and 2022.  

NYPA has completed several solar projects at public school districts through a joint program with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Arrays were constructed for the Somers Middle School and Tarrytown school district, both in Westchester County, Hudson Schools in Columbia County, and the New York Institute in the Bronx.

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