NYC council-compressed Photo: Peter Jelliffe/Flickr

The New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection is considering a bill that would mandate installation of solar power systems on all municipal buildings.

First considered in 2014, the legislation — known as Local Law Int. No. 478 — had mandated a study to identify City buildings for which it would be cost effective to install solar photovoltaic systems and expected savings in energy costs. If found to be cost-effective, the law would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to install solar photovoltaic systems. Certain landmarked buildings would be excepted from the requirement.

This month, the Committee held a hearing with representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, green non-profits, academia and the building industry. Most championed the idea of increased solar in New York City.

Lisa DiCaprio, an NYU professor of social services noted the opportunity NYC has with its 1,200 City-owned school buildings, most with flat rooftops that are ideal for solar cells. She also recommended that future proposals require solar energy for all new construction.

Merill Kramer, Head of the Sustainable Energy Practice at the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester LLP, applauded the initiative, but brought up private market challenges facing rooftop solar. He recommended eliminating delays and bottlenecks at the Department of Buildings and New York City Fire Department, which could hinder the City’s carbon reduction goals.

Ling Tsou, co-founder of United for Action, a New York renewable energy group, also cheered the bill, but expressed concern over the lack of a clear deadline for completion. “A map of all completed solar installations on a city-wide basis should be made available to the public on the city website,” she said.

Mayor de Blasio’s One NYC goals seek to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and to power 100 percent of City government operations from renewable sources of energy.

The law is currently “Laid Over in Committee,” which means a vote on the bill has not yet taken place, but there has already been at least one hearing.

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