WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – New York State is mandating a dramatic expansion of renewable energy over the next decade, and one community is pioneering a new approach as a model for other communities.
“This will generate a lot of electricity, and this is land we can do nothing else with,” said Mayor Thomas Roach.
An old landfill south of downtown will soon transform into a field filled with solar panels as part of the largest municipal renewable energy project in Westchester County.
“We’re in a climate crisis, half-measures aren’t gonna get us anywhere,” said Roach.
The mayor says the city has cut a deal to put solar panels on eight city-owned garages and other municipal property.
“We will be leasing our property to a private solar installer,” he said. “They will be paying us money, nearly $1 million a year which is significant for our budget.”
Roach says the project will qualify thousands of residents, including renters, for the Con Ed community solar option earning a 10% electric bill discount.
White Plains has seen steady growth of residential solar, but not fast enough to meet renewable energy rules set by New York State.
To put this in perspective, the White Plains municipal project will generate 6 megawatts of solar power every year – the equivalent of putting solar panels on a thousand residential rooftops.
The Cuomo administration has an aggressive mandate: By 2030, the percentage of electricity generated by renewables must triple, from 23% to 70%.
“I don’t think we can get there without an ‘all of the above’ approach,” said Radina Valova of Pace Energy and Climate Center. “Community solar, large scale renewables, rooftop solar. I should also add energy efficiency because the more you can reduce energy usage, the less electricity you have to produce.”
White Plains says there will be a cap on the number of residents who can apply for the 10% community solar discount.