NYC Signs on for Solar, E-Waste Recycling

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the city Department of Administrative Services would issue a request for proposals for private solar developers to purchase, install, own, and maintain solar panels on city-owned buildings in all five boroughs as part of PlaNYC.

The plan would more than double the city's current solar electric capacity. Eleven potential sites have been identified for the developer to choose from, including five schools and a community college. The city and the developer will enter into a 20-year power purchase agreement for the electricity the solar panels generate.

"New York City is moving ahead vigorously on our PlaNYC agenda, especially in the all-important area of reducing our reliance on the carbon-based fuels that contribute to global warming," Bloomberg said. "We've set a target of shrinking our carbon footprint by 30 percent by the year 2030. Increasing the use of renewable energy, like solar power, is a key strategy in that effort. Using solar power decreases demand for electricity from the power grid, which is typically generated by burning the fossil fuels that contribute to climate change."

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is leading The Solar America Initiative (SAI) to accelerate the development of advanced solar electric technologies, including solar panels and the concentration solar power systems, with the goal of making them cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by 2015. The development of this project began last year and was made possible by a planning grant and technical assistance from DOE, which has designated New York as "A Solar America" city.

In other action in the mayor's office, Bloomberg recently signed legislation establishing an electronic waste collection and disposal program.

"Electronic waste, known as 'e-waste,' contains many toxic substances and represents a growing share of New York City's commercial and residential waste stream," Bloomberg said. "Currently, manufacturers of electronic equipment are not required by law to bear any of the financial burden or responsibility for safely managing discarded electronic equipment at the end of its useful life, thus burdening local government and consumers with these costs and responsibilities. If e-waste is improperly handled, it can harm our environment through the release of toxic substances into the waste stream."

The local law requires manufacturers of certain electronic equipment -- such as computers, monitors and televisions -- to collect their products offered for return and ensure the equipment is properly disposed of in accordance with existing laws and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Manufacturers will have to submit an electronic waste management plan to the Department of Sanitation, describing in detail how they would implement the law.

"In the absence of federal legislation, 12 states have passed electronic waste laws. New York City will be the first municipality to pass e-waste legislation, which will protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of New York City. It will also improve our environment without placing any unreasonable or arbitrary requirements on electronics manufacturers," Bloomberg commented.

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