New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) already considers itself a bit of an environmentally friendly entity. In fact, the authority estimates it already saves more 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. And that’ just the start, because the MTA is about to get a lot greener.
MTA announced recently that it intends to lease out the roof tops of more than 100 of its facilities — including bus depots, train yards, repair shops, and commuter lots — on which private companies will be allowed to install solar panels. These firms will then sell the solar energy generated back to the city.
The total space of the rooftops up for grabs totals more than 10 million square feet. Completely utilized for solar energy generation, MTA estimates it could generate as much as 100 megawatts, which, according to the authority, is enough energy to power 18,000 households.
MTA loves this idea because it has little-to-no responsibility or upfront cost in these solar panel systems. Then it will be able to return that lean, emission free, solar electricity back to residents.
Private sector entities, universities and some NYC City buildings have already implemented the practice of utilizing unused rooftop real estate for solar power generation. MTA is now interested in the practice because the cost of solar panels has gone down tremendously in the recent years. Plus, the panels can be installed without penetrating the roof itself.
I love the idea that publicly owned building rooftops could be used to generate electricity. I do have to wonder, however, why MTA doesn’t spend the money itself on the solar systems. I suppose it’s to save that aforementioned upfront cost. That, and to avoid any potential blunders. This way, it washes its hands of responsibility.
Though, it does irk me a bit that private entities have to come in and then sell power back to the public, when these companies are using public property. Oh well. So is the delicate dance between government and private industry, I suppose. No matter, it’s great that NYC will soon have a healthy infusion of clean solar energy flowing through its power lines soon.