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New York City is stepping up its efforts to combat Climate change and address energy equity by launching a program that aims to provide up to 3,000 low-income homeowners with solar panels at no or low cost. This initiative not only helps reduce electricity bills for residents but also contributes to the city’s goal of shrinking its carbon footprint.
City officials believe this plan addresses equity by bringing expensive renewable energy technology to communities that have been historically excluded from the green energy movement. The program, which relies heavily on federal funding, will be part of Mayor Eric Adams’ environmental agenda announced during Earth Week.
Based on a proposal by City Comptroller Brad Lander, the initiative will establish a public entity to offer solar panels to homeowners who are willing to lease their rooftops. In return, homeowners will share in the benefits generated by the solar panels. With the average cost of installing solar panels on residences ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 before tax credits or incentives, this program can make a significant impact for many households. Notably, electricity costs in New York City are 40 percent higher than the national average.
For those who prefer to own their solar panels, the city will assist eligible homeowners in applying for state and federal subsidies, as well as bridge loans. Rohit Aggarwala, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, says the program aims to create attractive packages for homeowners in New York City who have been underserved by the private sector.
This pioneering program, the first of its kind in a large city, will be implemented over the next five years. With $1 million in seed money from the Adams administration, the initiative will rely on grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The city plans to apply for federal aid in the coming months and could start reaching out to potential applicants by the end of the year.
Despite ranking sixth in total installed solar capacity among U.S. cities, New York faces challenges in meeting ambitious solar targets. Overcoming barriers like installation difficulties and regulation compliance will require more focused policies. To this end, the City Council is currently considering a bill to ease some city fire code requirements.
So, let’s rally behind NYC’s innovative solar initiative and encourage other cities to follow suit! Together, we can create a greener and more equitable future for all. Spread the word about this exciting program and help empower low-income homeowners with clean, renewable energy.
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