Jul 29 2015
Are New York City’s Traffic Lights Going Green?
By 2025, all of NYC's traffic lights could be powered by renewable energy.
Photo credit: grendelkhan  via Creative Commons
July 29, 2015
Are New York City’s Traffic Lights Going Green?

By 2025, all of New York City’s traffic lights—along with its government buildings and possibly even public housing facilities—could be powered by wind, solar, or some other form of renewable, green energy.

Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio, issued a call to the energy industry to help the city identify creative solutions to bring reliable, cost-effective green energy to the Big Apple. This Request for Information seeks responses from all entities involved in the renewable sector—from developers and generators to transmission entities and financial institutions—and aims to identify new, rather than existing, renewable energy sources.

This distinction is important: the mayor’s intention is to inspire new clean energy projects, rather than taking from what already exists.

“This is a call to the marketplace: the biggest energy customer you’ll find is ready to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to renewable power,” said Mayor de Blasio in a statement.

Responses to the RFI are due in early September. A formal request for proposals will come later this fall.

Purchasing Power

Solar panels atop Brooklyn home. Via http://www.quixotic-systems.com/images/10th_St.jpg

Solar panels atop Brooklyn home. Via Quixotic Systems.

New York City consumes a lot of energy. Powering the city’s 4,000 government buildings and tens of thousands of streetlights costs upwards of $650 million dollars every year, and is responsible for about 7.5 percent of the entire city’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s 3.2 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent for those who are counting.

“We aim to be the thin edge of the wedge, the beginning of the transformation of the energy market for NYC…”

That’s why de Blasio’s plan is so exciting. Not only could it dramatically reduce the city’s contribution to climate change, but it could actually make it possible for other localities to do the same.

By injecting more than $600 million into the renewable energy industry, the plan could spur innovation, bring down costs, and inspire cities around the world to follow suit.

“We aim to be the thin edge of the wedge, the beginning of the transformation of the energy market for NYC, so that renewables become a major part of our electric grid over the next generation,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “The City, as one of the largest energy purchasers in the country, can use its purchasing power to lead the way.”

The renewable energy initiative is part of de Blasio’s One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City (OneNYC), wherein the city has pledged to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 (80×50), and emissions from City government operations 35 percent by 2025 (35×25).

By 2025, all of NYC's traffic lights could be powered by renewable energy.
Photo credit: grendelkhan  via Creative Commons