Better Ask the Bird: Should I Switch My Home to “Green” Power?

We’ve received many questions about this article. Most (if not all) are about Green Mountain Energy – are they affordable, ethical and truly green? We don’t want to deter you from reading on, but the article focuses on broader questions about Green Mountain and other ESCOs – who are they, what do they do, can they generally be trusted. There’s lots of useful info below…but this isn’t a review of Green Mountain Energy.That said, we’re also curious about Green Mountain. If you’re Green Mountain customer or employee past or present, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Or, if you’re a prospective customer, what do you want to know about Green Mountain? Drop us a line at And please keep asking questions – we’ll do our best to answer them! Email the Bird today!

Dear Bird: I’ve been approached (many times!) by “green” energy groups—at the farmer’s market, in front of my neighborhood grocery—asking me to switch to their service. I’m into renewable energy, and I love the idea of powering my home with solar or wind. But…are these groups for real? Should I take the plunge?

Windy in the City
New York, NY

Dear Windy,

Great question! We’ve also seen these folks at the market. Yes, they are for real. Bill McKibben(!) even profiled one of them, Green Mountain Power, in the the New Yorker.

Whether it’s Green Mountain or another “green” group, they likely represent an energy service company, or ESCO, which procures or produces electricity for residential customers like you (as well as commercial customers). ESCOs must be certified by the New York State Public Service Commission.

ESCOs became popular in the late 1990s in the wake of deregulation, offering consumers more choices and, sometimes, lower prices.

Here’s the catch: signing up with an ESCO doesn’t mean you’re switching your home directly to renewable energy. It’s impossible to know exactly where or how your specific electricity is generated.

When you sign up, the ESCO purchases wind or solar power on your behalf and it goes into the pool of electricity produced for the entire state or region where you live. This is the energy infrastructure grid, or sometimes just called “the grid”.

Nor does signing up with an ESCO mean you’re leaving behind the big utilities. ESCOs do supply energy for the grid, but Con Ed and National Grid still deliver it to your home (more on that in a bit).

Signing up with an ESCO does mean that you’re supporting and expanding the opportunity for renewable energy to be produced in New York State.

Take the Plunge?

Green Mountain Energy is an ESCO in New York City. Photo via Park Slope Stoop.

Whether or not you should take the plunge is a trickier question—switching utility providers is more complicated than buying an apple. Call us a cautious bird, but we’d recommend getting a pamphlet at the market and then heading home to do some more research.

After all, there are many ESCOs—83 at last count—and a range of services out there. Not all offer alternative energy. And not all of them will save you money.

So, what are your goals? Save money or support renewable energy? Or both, if possible? Once upon a time, switching to renewable energy meant paying a premium, but as more supply -and suppliers- come online, prices have fallen.

Now, take a really close look at your utility bill. We know, it’s not fun… but pull out bills from the past year. Compare them. Do they vary month to month? Seasonally? Knowing how much electricity you use during different seasons and how you’ve been charged for that usage will be a helpful guide for evaluating your choices.

It also helps to understand differences in charges. Your electricity bill consists of two components. One is for the supply of electricity, which is what this choice is about—ESCOs supply the electricity or natural gas.

There is also the delivery component, which reflects the costs for building, maintaining and transporting electricity from the point of production to your home. This is the work that Con Ed and National Grid do to earn their money.

Delivery accounts for at least 50-60% of your bill. Both supply and delivery charges are based on kWh, or the amount of electricity you actually use in a specified period – usually 30-32 days. Your choice of a supplier may affect the supply charges on your electric bill but it will have no effect on delivery charges.

Then take a thorough look at what the ESCO is offering. Where does the power come from? Different ESCOs supply different types of renewables—from wind to biomass. And of course, look at cost. Some ESCOs offer fixed-rate plans, while others vary rates with the energy market.

Buyer Be At Least A Bit Aware

While ESCOs are for real, some have used less-than-savory selling tactics such as “slamming” (switching customers to an ESCO plan without approval) and misleading customers, especially during door-to-door sales calls. Slamming is (of course) illegal and utilities like Con Ed will switch back “slammed” customers when notified.

And the Public Service Commission recently adopted stronger consumer protection standards, including a Consumer Disclosure Statement that you should see on the first page of any sales agreement.

Get Researching

Here’s a round-up of useful links to get you going:

Have you switched to an ESCO that supplies renewable energy? Or, do you have another question for us to dig in to? Drop The Bird a line – we’d love to hear from you!

Betsy Imershein provided the research and co-wrote this column with NYER. Thanks, Betsy!

Ozone Air Quality Advisory for NYC metro-area & Long Island

An Ozone Air Quality Advisory will be in effect today for the New York City metro-area and Long Island.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens and State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Howard Zucker issued the advisory, which will be in effect from 10 a.m. through 10 p.m.

The advisory applies to New York City, Westchester and Rockland counties, and Long Island, including Nassau and Suffolk counties.

People, especially young children, those who exercise outdoors, those involved in vigorous outdoor work and those who have respiratory disease (such as asthma) are being asked to consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity when ozone levels are the highest (generally afternoon to early evening).

The state provided the following information:

DEC and DOH issue Air Quality Health Advisories when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter, are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100. The AQI was created as an easy way to correlate levels of different pollutants to one scale, with a higher AQI value indicating a greater health concern.

A toll‑free Air Quality Hotline (1-800-535-1345) has been established by DEC to keep New Yorkers informed of the latest Air Quality situation.

Further information on ozone and PM 2.5 [particulate matter] is available on DEC’s web site and on the DOH website.


Summer heat can lead to the formation of ground‑level ozone ‑‑ a major component of photochemical smog. Automobile exhaust and out-of-state emission sources are the primary sources of ground‑level ozone and are the most serious air pollution problems in the northeast. This surface pollutant should not be confused with the protective layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere.

When outdoor levels of ozone are elevated, going indoors will usually reduce your exposure. Individuals experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing should consider consulting their doctor.

Ozone levels generally decrease at night and can be minimized during daylight hours by curtailment of automobile travel and the use of public transportation where available.

New Yorkers urged to take the following steps:

  • use mass transit or carpool instead of driving, as automobile emissions account for about 60 percent of pollution in our cities;
  • conserve fuel and reduce exhaust emissions by combining necessary motor vehicle trips;
  • turn off all lights and electrical appliances in unoccupied areas;
  • use fans to circulate air. If air conditioning is necessary, set thermostats at 78 degrees;
  • close the blinds and shades to limit heat build-up and to preserve cooled air;
  • limit use of household appliances. If necessary, run the appliances at off-peak (after 7 p.m.) hours. These would include dishwashers, dryers, pool pumps and water heaters;
  • set refrigerators and freezers at more efficient temperatures;
  • purchase and install energy efficient lighting and appliances with the Energy Star label; and
  • reduce or eliminate outdoor burning and attempt to minimize indoor sources of PM 2.5 such as smoking.


One of the Neatest NYC Videos We’ve Ever Seen

If you have 2 minutes, take a look at this video showing how dense Manhattan became between 1800 and 2010.

As described in a great article in the Atlantic’s City Lab, the video tracks neighborhood population densities on Manhattan using historical maps, aerial photographs, and census ward statistics.

City Lab points out two interesting things about the video-

  1. Population densities in Manhattan’s neighborhoods reached their peaked in 1910, fell for 70 years, and have been rising slowly since 1980. But Manhattan’s current population density is nowhere close to what it was in 1910.
  2. Manhattan was completely built up by 1951 (Battery Park City, later built on a landfill, notwithstanding).

The video was produced by the NYU Stern Urbanization Project, based on research by Shlomo Angel and Patrick Lamson-Hall. Angel and Lamson-Hall’s research paper on density in Manhattan is a very interesting read.

And you think New York City is crowded?

Take a look at the NYU Stern Urbanization Project’s youtube channel.

They point out that the urban population of the developing world is projected to grow from 2.5 billion to roughly 7.5 billion in the next 100 years. How will all these new urban residents be accommodated? The average city size in the developing world will have to triple; and/or entirely new cities will need to be built, says NYU.

This weekend in New York City……

Flowers are blooming at the fabulous Queens County Farm Museum, which occupies New York City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. The site, located in Floral Park, has been a farm since 1697!

Visiting the farm offers a great window into New York City’s long agricultural history.

Queens County Farm
Photo credit: Queens County Farm Museum

We visited the farm’s 47 acres yesterday, which include a really interesting Dutch farmhouse from the 1700’s, a greenhouse complex, goats, horses, and other farm animals, planting fields, an orchard, and an herb garden.

There is much to see- for adults and children.

Queens County farm museum V
The farm raises a variety of heritage breed chickens, such as these Silver Laced Wyandotte hens. Photo credit: Queens County Farm Museum
Queens County farm IV
Photo credit: Sarah Crean
Queens County Farm III
Photo credit: Sarah Crean

Admission is free and visitors are welcome seven days a week at the Queens County Farm Museum, the longest continuously farmed site in all of New York State.

State Puts Brakes on Crude Oil Facility in Port of Albany

New York State regulators have just put the brakes on the approval process for a crude oil heating facility in the Port of Albany. Environmental groups charged that the facility would “facilitate the oil industry’s desire to ship Tar Sands crude oil down the Hudson River on its way to the global market.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation today rescinded an earlier finding that the proposed facility would have no significant environmental impact, and would not require a full impact review. The DEC says it has received 19,000 public comments about the facility.

Massachusetts-based Global Partners, LLC had sought a New York State air quality permit in order to install seven boilers that would warm rail tanker cars to “facilitate offloading of dense crude oil to Hudson River barges destined for coastal refineries.”

The Albany Times Union reports that Albany already has become a focal shipping point for another type of crude oil- from the Bakken fields of North Dakota.

“Bakken crude is lighter and more flammable, and floats in water,” the Times Union noted. “Tar sands crude is less volatile, but heavier, and sinks to the bottom in water, which can make spills in water difficult to clean up.”

The DEC has announced they are now requiring a full Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Global Partners facility.

Read the state’s press release

“After a thorough review of Global Companies application and supporting documents for a Title V air permit modification to its facilities at the Port of Albany, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today its intent to rescind the Negative Declaration and Notice of Complete Application for the project. DEC identified significant proposed project changes and new information submitted after the Negative Declaration and the Notice of Complete Application that must be considered as part of a full environmental review of the project.

“Our review of Global’s application has focused on protecting the health of people living around the facility and the environment,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “This community has voiced its concerns and raised some serious issues. Through the environmental review process, DEC will continue to evaluate the project’s impacts.”

Global has 10 calendar days to respond to DEC’s notice.

State regulations (6 NY Codes, Rules & Regulations § 617.7(f)) provide that DEC must rescind a negative declaration when substantive: changes are proposed for the project; substantive: new information is discovered; or substantive: changes in circumstances arise that were not previously considered and the lead agency determines that a significant adverse impact may result.

In reviewing the 19,000 comments submitted during the public comment period significant issues were raised that meet the state regulatory standard to rescind the Negative Declaration for the project.

For example, there is not sufficient information to evaluate how the proposed project would comply with the hydrogen sulfide ambient air quality standard. In addition, Global failed to provide sufficient information to determine the net emissions increase associated with the proposed project under the nonattainment New Source Review (NSR) program. Global has proposed to reconstruct Tank 33 with a floating roof and refit this tank with heating coils to store the heated bitumen.

Global has the burden to demonstrate its compliance with all regulatory standards including the Hydrogen Sulfide standard. The company has not submitted any actual hydrogen sulfide emissions data from a heated crude oil storage tank with an internal floating roof.

Further, because of the close proximity of the 137-unit Ezra Prentice Homes residential housing development to Global’s facility, the potential for these proposed changes to have significant adverse impacts on the environment must be fully analyzed.”

Embracing Our Waterfront, Despite Its Uncertain Future

The following interview was published today on AdaptNY.


One of the organizations frequently at the forefront of New York’s resiliency thinking is the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a non-profit partnership of some 800 NGOs focused on metro-area waterways. Whether with a recently developed set of waterfront resilient building guidelines, or an about-to-be-released analysis of the long-term costs of resiliency, the alliance has delved deep into the complexities of protecting the city’s coastline from the risks of climate change.

The alliance holds its annual Waterfront Conference tomorrow, May 7. AdaptNY took the opportunity to interview Roland Lewis, the organization’s president and CEO.

AdaptNY: We recently reported on the many open questions around New York’s planning for climate adaptation. How well do you think the de Blasio administration has done on resiliency, and with its recently released OneNYC sustainability plan? How does OneNYC compare to the resiliency plans outlined under the previous Bloomberg administration?

Roland Lewis: The mayor’s key policy platform of addressing equity within the overall plan was a welcome addition, and he should be lauded for combining worthy goals to promote both a just and sustainable city. Adding community benefits such as local hiring and workforce development programs, in addition to addressing trash equity issues, have long needed more attention.

We do think everyone is looking for more of the details that support the colorful and inspiring vision that they have used to re-launch PlaNYC to OneNYC. The release of the budget [expected May 7] and numbers that support these visions will be telling, and show exactly which projects advance the goals of OneNYC.

The resiliency plans seem to be a continuation of the Bloomberg administration and the recommendations from the SIRR [Special initiative on Rebuilding and Resiliency] report, which is a great ten-year plan but not completely funded at the end of the day.

We are calling for a more sustained, planning strategy that looks further into the future. We’ve estimated the cost of inaction. Now it is essential that we do the opposite: develop a comprehensive capital strategy to dramatically reduce the region’s flood risk through 2100, including determining and prioritizing the necessary infrastructure investments, ensuring appropriate accountability to execute the strategy, and securing the necessary funds.

Flooding in Harlem during Hurricane Irene. Photo credit: David Bledsoe via Creative Commons.

AdaptNY: As you point out, one of the big unknowns for New York’s resiliency planning is what it will ultimately cost. You’ve been working on an initiative that probes into that issue. What have you found so far? What do you hope to reveal? Is the city cooperating with information?

Lewis: Our report, “Climate Change Accounting: What Is the Cost,” [to be released May 7] is really trying to draw attention to the need to conduct long-term planning for resiliency and protection of the New York region. And although we have begun to seriously think about protection measures, the work to-date and planned is just scratching the surface, or a “down payment.” Other countries, such as the Dutch have multi-generational plans in place to address climate change that we should look to and model for our own needs.

As for cooperation, we did receive input from various public entities, including the city, in its creation. A problem of this magnitude needs “all hands on deck”, and our hope is this report will help city, state, and federal agencies in obtaining the funding and implementation resources they truly need.

To accomplish this and safeguard our future, the alliance and its partners in the New York–New Jersey Harbor Coalition call for creation of a presidential commission. The commission should include elected representatives from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut; necessary federal, state, and local government agencies; and climate change and infrastructure experts from academia and the private sector.

AdaptNY: The alliance earlier this year proposed Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG), a kind of LEED program for waterfront building standards.What are the aims of the program? How are you hoping to test it out? And what’s been the response to these new standards, especially from a city built around rapid development?

Lewis: The goal of the WEDG program is to be a catalyst for sustainable transformation of our waterfront by providing best practices and a ratings system to promote access, resiliency, and ecology. It is a tool for communities, elected officials, government agencies, practitioners, and real estate developers/property owners, anyone that is working on or cares about the waterfront.

Over the next year, we will be identifying a range of projects, including different types (residential/commercial, parks, and industrial/maritime), areas (all five NYC boroughs and New Jersey), and both private and public, to use as case studies and gather feedback on the current version.

Since releasing Version 1.0, the response has been great and the program only seems to be gaining more buzz. It’s the first of its kind in the nation, and from a national planning conference in Seattle to community boards in the Bronx, there seems to be a need and market niche for WEDG.

We’re actually hearing that applicants are mentioning WEDG during the permitting process and in discussion with regulatory agencies and other stakeholders, which is very encouraging to hear. Community boards are beginning to pass resolutions that waterfront projects in their districts use WEDG, which is also a good sign.

AdaptNY: For a city with more than 500 miles of coastline, there are a huge range of fairly immediate waterfront issues, ranging from transportation and security to zoning and jobs. Yet the alliance has taken up an intense focus on adapting to long-term climate change. Tell us more about the organization’s thinking on the importance of resilience?

Transportation infrastructure in New York City is especially vulnerable to sea level rise. Photo credit: MTA via Creative Commons.

Lewis: MWA works to protect, transform, and restore our harbor and waterways, and resilience against future storms and sea level rise, although critical to the long-term viability of our coastal city, is just one piece of the puzzle.

You’re right that transportation challenges are front and center for many New Yorkers these days. The plenary panel discussion at this year’s waterfront conference, now in its seventh year, will build from Mayor de Blasio’s proposal for a citywide ferry network and new bus routes that connect transit-poor communities to jobs and economic opportunity. We have spent years advocating for expanding ferry service to the southeast Bronx, Astoria, Red Hook, the Rockaway peninsula, and other waterfront districts, and look forward to working with the city and reaching across our alliance of grassroots organizations to help realize the mayor’s vision.

So we’re looking to the waterways to help people connect to jobs, but we are also looking to connect people with the waterways more broadly, for recreation and education. Harbor Camp, a partnership with United Neighborhood Houses to provide water-based summer camp experiences to children in the New York metropolitan area, provides on-water and land-based waterfront education programs, nurturing environmental stewardship in the next generation of New Yorkers.

kids kayaking
Learning to kayak. Photo credit: Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance

Our Open Waters Initiative provides on-water education and recreation for the general public, last year reaching over 3,000 participants in programs at NYC Parks’ Bay Ridge Community Eco Dock at the 69th St Pier. We have also helped unlock Gantry Plaza State Park Pier 4 in Long Island City, Queens for human-powered boating programs with New York State Parks.

And finally, our annual harbor-wide City of Water Day festival engages youth and families – reaching nearly 30,000 New Yorkers with the message that the waterfront is not only a threat, but it is a resource for fun, and for education.

From its genesis, our policy platform, created by convening and organizing a vast constituency, addressed sea level rise and climate change and that thread continues through our WEDG program and the new “Climate Change Accounting” report, as well as through our events such as this upcoming waterfront conference.

Because we have such a broad mission, our program and policy platforms do have a wide range and will continue to evolve and reflect the issues of our time, but climate change will always be part of those efforts. As we think about our waterfront as a utility that provides different types of benefits, the issue of “protection” has, of course, been front and center post-Sandy as we think about resiliency.


AdaptNY, a project of the CUNY School of Journalism, and NYER frequently collaborate on stories about climate resiliency planning in New York City. Our latest joint examination of the city’s planning efforts, with the Gotham Gazette, was published last month.

With Equity as Goal, City Releases New Sustainability and Resiliency Plan

“Environmental and economic sustainability must go hand in hand,” declared Mayor de Blasio today as he released the City’s new sustainability and climate resiliency plan: OneNYC.

OneNYC builds on PlaNYC, the multi-pronged “sustainability blueprint” created under the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to de Blasio, OneNYC will expand on the targets established in previous plans, while also incorporating the priorities of his own administration.

Growth, sustainability, and resiliency remain at the core of OneNYC – but equity is now an additional guiding principle throughout the plan.

The City highlighted four goals in its release of OneNYC today:

  • Lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty over the next 10 years
  • Zero waste to landfills by 2030
  • The cleanest air of any large city, and a dramatic reduction in emissions
  • Elimination of long-term displacement from homes and jobs after shock events by 2050

“This is a bold and ambitious plan – and New York City requires nothing less,” de Blasio stated.

The plan is organized around four major “visions”- “Our Growing, Thriving City,” “Our Just and Equitable City,” “Our Sustainable City,” and “Our Resilient City.”

The Challenges Facing New York City

New York City faces a number of challenges, says the City, including a rapidly growing population, rising inequality, an aging infrastructure, and climate change. OneNYC lays out a series of targets and initiatives to “prepare New York City for the future generations,” including:

  • Making New York City home to 4.9 million jobs by 2040.
  • Creating 240,000 new housing units by 2025, and an additional 250,000 to 300,000 by 2040.
  • Enabling the average New Yorker to reach 25% more jobs – or 1.8 million jobs – within 45 minutes by public transit.
  • Lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty or near-poverty by 2025.
  • Cutting premature mortality by 25 percent by 2040, while reducing racial/ethnic disparities.
  • Reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, over 2005 levels.
  • Sending zero waste to landfills and reducing waste disposal by 90 percent relative to 2005 levels, by 2030.
  • Ensuring New York City has the best air quality among all large U.S. cities by 2030.
  • Reducing risks of flooding in most affected communities.
  • Eliminating long-term displacement from homes and jobs after future shock events by 2050.
  • Reducing the city’s Social Vulnerability Index for neighborhoods across the City.
  • Reducing annual economic losses from climate-related events.
  • Continued investment as part of an over-$20 billion program that includes a range of physical, social, and economic resiliency measures.

Does the City’s Plan Prepare Us Sufficiently for Climate Change?

As you read the City’s plan, here are some questions to consider, especially in its discussion of climate resiliency.

How Will the City Carry Out Its Vision?

The New York League of Conservation Voters applauded the Mayor for “laying out an aspirational vision of the city we want to become, a city that is not only environmentally sustainable but also economically sustainable,” in a statement today.

But, the League added, “as PlaNYC showed us…successfully achieving our ambitious goals requires a roadmap that allows us to measure progress. The de Blasio administration should quickly follow up with an implementation plan that includes funding sources, a timetable, baseline indicators to track progress, and an agency responsible for implementation.”

It’s Earth Day—Come to the NYER Launch Party!

Join us as we celebrate the launch of New York Environment Report the only way we know how: during happy hour!

Raise a glass, meet our team (and your fellow readers), and share your thoughts on our work. Story ideas, writing pitches, and creative suggestions welcome!

We’ll also welcome two very special guests: Councilman Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, and Councilman Donovan Richards, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. They’ll give us the scoop on the updated PlaNYC and how the City is preparing for climate change.

Oh, and did we mention it’s Earth Day? And there will be free pizza?!

Can’t wait to see you there!

NYER Launch Party

Date: Wednesday, April 22
Time: 6:00—8:30
Location: Maxwell’s Bar, 59 Reade Street, New York, NY
Details: Click here.

Feds Allocate $3 Billion for 33 Sandy-Damaged NYCHA Developments

Our summary of a statement released yesterday by the Mayor’s Press Office:


Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer have announced the allocation of approximately $3 billion in federal funding to repair and protect 33 New York City public housing developments that sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy – the largest FEMA grant in the history of the agency.

The Mayor’s Office described the FEMA grant yesterday as “unprecedented.”

“This historic and essential funding will restore livable housing for thousands of families and fortify NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] against future disasters,” says the City.

Several major NYCHA developments lie in flood zones. The FEMA funds will go to 14 developments in Manhattan, 12 in Brooklyn, and 7 in Queens.

Half of the funds will be designated for repairs, while the other half will be aimed at implementing resiliency measures to better protect developments from future storms. The funding is authorized by FEMA’s Alternative Procedures, which provides a lump sum payment instead of the typical incremental funding by FEMA.

“Too many [NYCHA residents] are still feeling the impact [of Sandy],” said Mayor de Blasio.

“This investment…won’t simply bring NYCHA developments back to pre-Sandy conditions,” said the Mayor. “It will allow us to fortify buildings and utilities…From elevated boilers and standby generators to flood protection, this investment will go a long way for thousands of NYCHA residents.”

According to City Hall, the new Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency is implementing other “key” climate resiliency measures, including flood protection systems in lower Manhattan and Red Hook, Brooklyn, and many other short-, medium-, and long-term measures across the five boroughs.

Protecting NYCHA Residents from Future Storms

The approximately $3 billion in FEMA funding will allow the New York City Housing Authority to make critical repairs at 33 developments where Sandy’s storm surge flooded basements and first floors, severely damaging boilers and electrical and mechanical equipment, and leaving many residents without power and heat for days or weeks.

In many cases, NYCHA electrical and mechanical systems were completely destroyed during Sandy, says the City.

The FEMA funds will also allow NYCHA to take measures to make the 33 developments more resilient to future storms and extreme weather. This includes new construction of elevated boilers, installation of flood barrier systems, and acquisition of stand-by generators.

NYCHA Residents Targeted for Resiliency Jobs

The work completed via this funding will be subject to NYCHA’s recently negotiated Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) of Greater New York, as well as its affiliated unions – allowing NYCHA residents to gain access to union jobs and training and helping ensure swifter capital construction.

FEMA $$$ Aside, NYCHA Is Facing a Massive Budget Deficit

NYCHA requires more than $18 billion beyond the funding announced yesterday to address its broader unmet capital needs across its portfolio of more than 330 developments.

Eroding annual support for NYCHA has resulted in more than $1 billion in lost funding in recent years, hindering the Authority’s ability to keep its buildings in a state of decent repair and maintain a basic quality of life for the more than 400,000 New Yorkers living in NYCHA.

[Editor’s Note: The Daily News reported in December that NYCHA was nearing a deal to sell a 50% stake in almost 900 apartments to a pair of private developers. Some of the 900 apartments reportedly targeted for the deal are located in NYCHA’s Campos Plaza development in Manhattan, which is also receiving some of the just-announced FEMA funding.

The cash infusion from private developers would raise $100 million over the next two years and another $100 million through 2029, according to the Daily News.]

The 33 NYCHA developments slated to receive FEMA funding


  • Riis I
  • Riis II
  • Metro North
  • Wald
  • Baruch
  • East River Houses
  • Smith Houses
  • La Guardia
  • Campos I
  • Campos II
  • Lavanburg
  • Rangel Houses
  • Two Bridges
  • Isaacs



  • Red Hook West
  • Red Hook East
  • Gowanus
  • Coney Island Houses
  • Coney Island Site 1B
  • Coney Island Sites 4 & 5
  • Coney Island Site 8
  • Carey Gardens
  • Surfside Gardens
  • O’Dwyer Gardens
  • Haber Houses
  • Gravesend



  • Redfern
  • Hammel Houses
  • Ocean Bay Oceanside
  • Ocean Bay Bayside
  • Carleton Manor
  • Beach 41st
  • Astoria


Repair and mitigation work at the 33 developments will include:


• New elevated boiler buildings to be built at an elevation above the recent FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) to reduce future flood risk
• Removal and replacement of building heating plant equipment, including boilers, pumps, tanks and traps throughout the submerged portions of the buildings
• Removal and replacement of Sandy-damaged compactors and lifts


• Installation of standby generators to protect quality of life in any future storm power outages
• Removal and replacement of existing electrical equipment at lower levels of the buildings
• Removal and replacement of conduit and associated wiring below the flood level throughout the sites, as well as replacement of associated lighting
• Installation of CCTV/Layered Access systems
• New electrical buildings, to be built above FEMA FIRM to reduce flood risk, that will house buildings’ main electrical components.


• Removal and replacement of Sandy damaged doors, walls, floors and fixtures throughout buildings’ first floor apartments and common areas
• Replacement of damaged roofing components
• Installation of a flood barrier system for lower levels of buildings

Site Work and Environmental

• Removal and replacement of damaged play areas, fencing, sidewalks and parking areas
• Removal and disposal of any regulated or hazardous materials


The City’s Flood Zones Have Expanded: Are You In One?

The number of New Yorkers living in flood zones is about to almost double. Now more than ever, it makes sense to check if you live in a flood zone.

Over 400,000 New York City residents, an increase of 84% from the current 218,088, will soon be living in flood zones.

As we reported last Fall, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has updated maps that depict which parts of New York City are at risk from a 100-year-flood—meaning areas that have a one percent chance of flooding each year.

Finalized maps will be released next year.

Properties included in the expanded flood zones have jumped from 23,885 structures in 2010 to 84,596 in 2013—an increase of more than 60,000 buildings.

The number of buildings in flood zones more than doubled in all boroughs except the Bronx, but the largest spike came in Brooklyn: more than 42,000 structures are now identified as at-risk, compared to the previous 5,648.

If you own a home or residential building in a flood zone, you will be required to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance premiums are projected to increase significantly, a problem which the City has been trying to address.

Check out our latest story, written by contributor Samar Khurshid, to learn more about rising flood insurance rates and what they mean for New York City.

Find out even more about New York City’s flood insurance issues here.

See the latest sea level rise projections for New York City here.