FLATIRON — The city has tripled the amount of solar power it generates across the five boroughs, completing 10 solar panel installations atop municipal buildings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday.
The panels, funded by federal grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, were erected on three police precinct buildings and one fire truck repair facility in Queens, atop FDNY Engine Company 168 on Staten Island, on Brandeis High School on the Upper West Side and on New Horizon High School in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn.
Several buildings used by the city’s transportation and sanitation departments were also outfitted with solar panels, increasing the Big Apple's solar capacity to 8.4 megawatts.
Those projects, along with other energy-efficient upgrades from the administration’s sustainability program — called PlaNYC — are expected to yield an estimated $32 million a year in energy savings, Bloomberg said.
"You can have an awful lot more teachers, police officers and firefighters for $32 million a year," Bloomberg said at a press conference at the Flatiron headquarters of Efficiency 2.0, a three-year-old firm dedicated to helping utility companies work with their customers to reduce energy consumption.
Bloomberg said the city has made 143 energy-efficient upgrades over the past few years, including installing high-efficiency lighting on 12 sites throughout the city, saving roughly $332,000 a year. And he said 99 more projects were in the works.
"The city’s commitment to clean energy makes it the best place in the world for innovative technology companies to start, grow and succeed," Tom Scaramellino, the founder and CEO of Efficiency 2.0, said in a statement. His firm plans to double its staff of 30 employees this year.
But after Monday’s announcement, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer criticized the mayor for not expanding solar power more rapidly and on a broader scale.
"The increase in New York City's solar capacity over the last six years is welcome news," Stringer said in a statement. “But to put the mayor’s announcement in perspective, in the last two years, New Jersey installed over 440 megawatts of solar energy.”
Stringer said that his office pledged $3 million to help finance the installation of solar panels on public school roofs in fiscal year 2013.
But Bloomberg challenged the notion that the city was sluggish in its adoption of solar power.
"If we could get more capital funds from Washington, we certainly have shown we know how to use them," Bloomberg said.
"If the borough president would give up on some of the perks that he wants and money he divvies out to people on small projects that he thinks are important," Bloomberg continued, "we’d be happy to use some of that money to put more solar panels on roofs."
Bloomberg also announced that the city’s first “green” hackathon will take place this summer. The two-day event, called “Reinvent Green,” will invite engineers and designers to create digital tools and applications that will encourage New Yorkers to engage in more sustainable practices, the mayor said.