DEP Announces Installation of Solar Panels on Schools, Water Treatment Facilities

Solar panels like these will be installed on almost 50 school buildings citywide. Image Credit: NYC DEP

The new solar power installations will help to generate over 22 megawatts of solar energy. On March 1, 2021, New York City and the New York Power Authority announced the installation of solar arrays at almost 50 public schools within New York City as well as at water treatment facilities in Manhattan, Westchester, Delaware, and Ulster counties. The power generated by the installations is enough to power approximately 5,600 City residences and reduce nearly 7,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent each year. Energy storage facilities are also planned to be used at these facilities in order to store power for times of higher electricity demand.

The City and the City Power Authority conducted assessments of locations to find areas best suited for solar installations to help the city achieve its desired renewable energy output. Many of the selected areas also have poorer air quality and lower median incomes which helps the City in its efforts to better environmental justice.

The utility company ENGIE will design, construct, own, and operate the solar panel installations at the Department of Education facilities. Ameresco will be doing the same at Wards Island and other Department of Environmental Protection sites. The New York Power Authority will be acting as an advisor and manager to ensure that the projects progress smoothly.

Solar panels will be installed throughout an eight-facility complex on Wards Island which will contain over seven megawatts of power capactiy. Power generated by the solar panels will serve the energy needs of the plant. A battery energy storage system will also reduce energy demand. Another 1.5 megawatts will be installed at three city-owned facilities in the watershed, including the Catskill-Delaware Ultraviolet Light Disinfection Facility in Valhalla.

Carbon emissions at public schools account for around one-third of New York City’s emissions. The installation of these solar power devices will help reduce the emissions while also providing learning opportunities for students on the importance of the environment and renewable energy. These installations will also provide the city with the opportunity to purchase clean energy made on-site rather than from utility companies that do not use renewable energy.

These installations will help New York City achieve Mayor de Blasio’s goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar power on public buildings by 2025. Mayor de Blasio also hopes to reduce city emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. These goals are aligned with Governor Cuomo’s goals to have 70 percent of energy in New York to come from renewable energy sources by  2030.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza stated, “DEP’s campus-style facilities are unique and prime real estate for megawatt-scale solar projects, and we will continue to look for new ways to expand our renewable energy portfolio.”

Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services stated, “New solar installations on schools and other public facilities will generate green energy that will help achieve Mayor de Blasio’s goal of reducing citywide emissions 80% by 2050.”

New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones stated, “Bringing solar energy to New York City facilities in diverse neighborhoods will help supply affordable, clean and reliable electricity throughout the five boroughs and support the state mandate for a 100 percent carbon-free electricity sector by 2040.”

By: Patrick McNeill (Patrick is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)


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