In the past few years, New York City has made significant strides to meet Mayor de Blasio’s 2014 commitment to decrease greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, as well as Gov. Cuomo’s goal to source half of statewide electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
But the challenges obstructing New York City’s bid to go solar can make the process seem convoluted for homeowners and expensive for building owners, since the installation is an investment. The most apparent obstacle is the scarcity of sunlight–the result of tall and densely-packed buildings constantly casting each other in shadow. Aside from that obvious drawback, installing solar panels requires applying through the Department of Buildings (DOB), negotiating with massive utility companies like ConEd, and complying with fire codes.
Each of these issues, however, has recently been addressed. Installation costs can be significantly offset through rebates and tax credits, and reduced further by joining a solar purchasing group. The wait time for the DOB application process has been minimized from months to weeks. And the role utility companies will play has been carved out by the New York Public Service commission. Brooklyn SolarWorks has even developed a workaround for the tricky problem of applying solar panels to flat rooftops without violating the fire code: a canopy system that raises the panels above roof level.
Currently, most solar systems in New York City are attached to suburban single-family homes, although building owners and management companies are beginning to come on board for the long-term cost-savings. In September, de Blasio showed off a solar panel system at the Brooklyn Navy Yards. And earlier this year, the city introduced Solarize NYC, a campaign to make solar energy more affordable and accessible. While challenges remain, the solar movement in New York City seems to be picking up speed.
Use Google’s Project Sunroof to see how much solar energy can save you. Visit EnergySage’s New York Solar Marketplace to evaluate your installation options. And check out CUNY’s NYC Solar Map if you’re considering going solar.