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OneNYC: With NYC Solar Capacity Tripled Since 2014, Mayor de Blasio Announces Launch of Citywide Solarize NYC Program to Further Expand Access to Lower-Cost Solar

April 21, 2016

Solarize NYC key piece of OneNYC goal of moving toward renewables, part of Mayor de Blasio's 80x50 commitment

NEW YORK-Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that the amount of solar power installed across the city has tripled since the beginning of 2014, and launched Solarize NYC, a citywide program designed to further increase access to solar through community group purchasing campaigns over the next nine years, expected to lower costs by 10 to 20 percent and increase solar capacity in communities that have historically had limited access to solar. Solarize NYC is a core component of New York City's OneNYC goal of expanding renewable energy for all New Yorkers as the City moves away from fossil fuels and toward renewables, part of Mayor de Blasio's sweeping commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

"New York City is moving toward renewable, clean energy and away from fossil fuels, and making solar more accessible is a key piece of that puzzle," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We've focused on cutting red tape and leading by example, and solar installations have already tripled since the beginning of this administration. Now, Solarize NYC means more and more New Yorkers across the city will have access to lower-cost solar - and can help us achieve our OneNYC goals of 80x50 and more."

Over the last two years, since the start of 2014, the amount of solar capacity installed in the city has tripled, with private and public installations now totaling almost 75 megawatts (MW).  Public solar capacity has increased 13-fold since the Mayor took office, to nearly 9 MW. Private solar capacity has nearly tripled since the Mayor took office, from 24 MW at the beginning of 2014 to nearly 65 MW.

Through One City: Built to Last, Mayor de Blasio committed to installing 100 MW of new solar on public buildings and 250 MW of new solar on private buildings by 2025. The plan also provided funding for the NYC Solar Partnership to continue to reduce market barriers for solar; attract more solar energy companies to the city and create more jobs; and increase the city's installed solar capacity. As part of its OneNYC commitment to increase in-city renewable power production, the de Blasio administration recently cut red tape at the Department of Buildings in order to speed approval of solar installation projects, and updated Fire Department guidelines on roof classifications to ensure larger solar projects can be safely installed on even more rooftops.

Solarize NYC will increase solar capacity citywide and remove barriers for communities that have historically had limited access to clean energy. The NYC Solar Partnership will work alongside selected communities to design a Solarize NYC campaign that will include: technical assistance from solar ombudsmen; funding support for marketing materials and staff time; and marketing and outreach plans that are tailored to the needs of their community. Communities that are interested in applying can submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) at Solarize NYC.

The NYC Solar Partnership is led by Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York, which works collaboratively with the New York City Mayor's Office of Sustainability and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to promote an equitable and self-sustaining solar market in pursuit of the Mayor's goal of increasing solar capacity around the city.

Access to cleaner, more affordable power will create tangible economic and quality of life improvements for all New Yorkers. Solarize NYC also supports the local solar industry by stimulating demand for local installers and reducing customer acquisition costs by aggregating customers. Historically, Solarize campaigns lower the cost of going solar by 10 to 20 percent. The more who sign up for solar during the campaign, the lower the cost for all who participate.

"This innovative model means that New Yorkers who want to green their electricity can do it collectively through their friends, their workplace, their community group or business association. With renewable energy making up less than 2% of the city's electricity, we have to look outside the box for solutions," said Nilda Mesa, Director of the New York City Mayor's Office of Sustainability. "New York has always been a city of neighborhoods, now they have something else that can bring them together as the more who sign up the cheaper the price. This approach has the potential to fast-track solar adoption in New York city in the years to come, so we can reach our 80x50 goal."

"The City is committed to achieving its OneNYC 80x50 goals, which will require an unprecedented effort to reduce our energy use and source our energy from renewable sources. An expansion of solar power is critical to this effort," said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC's Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs. "By launching Solarize NYC, CUNY and the City are helping to scale up on-site renewable energy investments in communities across the city."

"CUNY is proud to have led the NYC Solar Partnership over the last decade, building pathways to increased solar energy use and the creation of new jobs in our city," said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. "New York City currently has over 2,700 solar jobs and this program is expected to add hundreds more."

"The shift to a clean energy economy starts where the majority of people live: dense, urban environments like New York City," said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. "NYCEDC is proud to support this transition with new programs like Solarize NYC, which will help local communities switch to clean, affordable, and reliable solar power. Solarize NYC will lower energy costs for participants and create new solar job opportunities for local residents, proving that supporting the development of the clean energy sector isn't just smart environmental policy, it's smart economics."

The NYC Solar Partnership will partner with multiple New York City communities each year. The innovative program uses a flexible definition of "community" in order to best meet needs and interest. Applicants will have the opportunity to self-define their "community," whether the boundaries are geographic, such as a block or neighborhood; an affinity group, such as a Business Improvement District, a labor union, or a house of worship; or otherwise. Once a community is selected, the NYC Solar Partnership will work alongside community members to design their individual Solarize NYC campaign. Based on the campaign design, solar installers will be selected through an application process administered and vetted by the NYC Solar Partnership. With the design in-place and solar installers on board, community volunteers, with the support of the NYC Solar Partnership, will lead the Solarize NYC community campaigns to enlist community members to go solar.

Solarize NYC builds upon the success of the 2015 NYSolar Smart Solarize Brooklyn CB6 pilot program led by Sustainable CUNY, through which 26 contracts have been signed to date, representing 141 kilowatts (kW) of power.

More information about Solarize NYC can be found by visiting Solarize NYC.

"Solarize NYC can add to our city's record of leadership in urban sustainability by making solar purchasing and installation cheaper and easier," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "By leveraging smart planning principles and economies of scale, this program can empower residents and businesses to make sustainable choices and help preserve our environment for future generations."

Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council Environmental Protection Committee, said, "Solarize NYC will increase access to solar energy and help bring us closer toward our goal of reducing our carbon emissions 80% by 2050.  In order for our city to combat climate change, all New Yorkers deserve access to renewable energy solutions that encourage sustainable habits.  This innovative campaign will remove barriers for communities that have historically had limited access to solar systems through lowered costs, targeted outreach, technical assistance.  I look forward to working with the NYC Solar Partnership as this program is implemented.  I thank Mayor de Blasio for his bold vision on this important issue."

"In order for New York City to lead the globe in the effort to combat climate change, every agency needs to think about sustainability and energy efficiency with every project now and in the future, and the citywide program, Solarize NYC, will help increase access to solar energy for communities and local organizations that have struggled to meet the high cost of solar panels," said Council Member Donovan Richards. "To meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, we're going to have to get creative and reach out to all corners of the city to truly make an impact. I'd like to thank Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to protecting New Yorkers from the threats of climate change."

"Solarize NYC is an incredible opportunity for all New Yorkers to participate in the clean energy economy, and do so more cheaply and easily than ever before," said Donna De Costanzo, Director of Northeast Energy and Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This program will be a big step toward more New Yorkers going solar and the city achieving its climate goals."

"EDF is thrilled to see Mayor de Blasio's continued commitment to achieving ambitious climate targets.  Solarize NYC has the potential to cut pollution, create local jobs, save money and improve New Yorkers' quality of life while giving all New Yorkers the opportunity to be a part of the clean energy revolution," said Rory Christian, Director of New York Clean Energy at the Environmental Defense Fund.

"Access to solar energy is no longer a novelty for the few but a necessity for all if we are to achieve our renewable energy goals. Solarize NYC will help us dramatically increase the amount of solar installed in the five boroughs. By supporting communities in purchasing solar, the program will allow thousands of residents and businesses to do so more easily and at a lower cost," said Marcia Bystryn, President of New York League of Conservation Voters. "We applaud Mayor de Blasio for following through on his commitment to expand access to clean, reliable, and affordable solar power for all New Yorkers."

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