Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability Sergej Mahnovski announced the largest solar energy installation in New York City will be installed at Freshkills Parks on Staten Island. Approximately 47 acres of land will be leased to SunEdison, which was selected through a public bidding process to design, construct, install and operate a solar power facility with the potential to generate up to 10 megawatts of power – five times more than any solar energy system in the city and enough to power approximately 2,000 homes.
The solar power system will be an integral part of the Freshkills Park, and will increase the City’s current renewable energy capacity by 50 percent. Fostering the market for renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are two key initiatives of PlaNYC, the City’s long-term sustainability blueprint. This announcement is the latest in a series of solar initiatives the city has launched in recent years including significantly scaling up use of solar energy at City-owned sites and developing the NYC Solar Map, a web-based tool that estimates the feasibility of installing solar panels on any of the 1 million New York City buildings. The Administration is moving forward with steps to officially map an additional 1,500 acres of Freshkills into parkland, officially bringing the total for Freshkills Park to 2,200 acres and bringing total parkland in New York City to more than 30,000 acres for the first time in history. The Mayor made the announcement at Freshkills Park where he was joined by Borough President James Molinaro, Assembly Member Michael Cusik, Assembly Member Matthew Titone and Atilla Toth, General Manager for SunEdison, for the announcement.
“Freshkills was once the site of the largest landfill in the world. Soon it will be one of the City’s largest parks, and the site of the largest solar power installation ever developed within the five boroughs,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Over the last twelve years we’ve restored wetlands and vegetation and opened new parks and soccer fields at the edges of the site. Thanks to the agreement today we will increase the amount of solar energy produced in New York City by 50 percent and it is only fitting that Freshkills, once a daily dumping ground, will become a showcase urban renewal and sustainability.”
The Department of Parks and Recreation intends to file next month the application to the Department of City Planning to formally map an additional 1,500 acres of the Freshkills site as parkland. Currently mapped for a variety of uses and under different jurisdictions, this application will include a provision for specific sites at Freshkills to develop renewable energy. The move will expedite and streamline the administrative process to build the Freshkills solar facility as a model of this Administration's commitment to long-range sustainability practices. This application represents hard work years in the making, highlighting the City's commitment to parks and sustainability, alongside the elected officials and local leadership here in Staten Island.
In addition, once the application process is complete and with the area designated as parkland, the added land at Freshkills will put the City at over 30,000 acres of parkland - a size greater than the entire city of San Francisco. Specific to the ‘Borough of Parks,’ the mapping would give Staten Island the highest parkland acreage of the five boroughs, at 8,822 acres, representing 28 percent of the City’s parkland. In all, the City has added 871 acres of parkland since 2001.
This announcement builds on the work the City has already done to cultivate more renewable energy. In April, the City entered into an innovative third-party ownership agreement to install almost 2 megawatts of solar energy on four City-owned buildings including the Port Richmond Waste Water Treatment Plant, two Bronx High Schools, and the Staten Island Ferry Maintenance Building. Almost 700 kilowatts already exist on City-owned buildings such as police precincts, park buildings and firehouses.
In addition to bringing renewable electricity to New York City, solar power will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local pollutants. During the hottest summer days, demand for electricity forces the activation of inefficient in-city “peaker” plants, some of which burn heavy fuel oil. The solar and wind facilities at Freshkills will reduce the need for peak electricity generation at these facilities, and help to meet the PlaNYC goal of a 30-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Freshkills spans 2,200 acres on the western shore of Staten Island and served as the City’s principal solid waste landfill until 2001. In 2006, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation began working to develop Freshkills Park, which will incorporate the solar and wind power installations. The use of capped municipal landfills to develop renewable energy facilities was outlined in PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s unprecedented program to prepare the City for more residents, strengthen the economy, combat climate change, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
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