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City Council’s Infrastructure Task Force Debates Solar Power Installations

During a panel discussion that was held earlier today at Hunter College, local alternative energy experts and city officials debated how Gotham might encourage increasing solar power to public and private buildings. The City Council’s infrastructure task force organized the forum, and co-chair Daniel Garodnick explained that under current regulations, a building owner is required to pay the costs of hooking a solar power system to the Con Edison grid. It’s not that simple, though; a 32-page .pdf document called “Standardized Interconnection Requirements and Application Process for New Distributed Generators 2 MW or Less Connected in Parallel with Utility Distribution Systems” sets forth the parameters. And you thought LEED 2009 was a lot to digest.

The New York Times’ City Room blog reports that one idea the task force is considering is creating various “solar empowerment” zones, where neighboring buildings that are suitable for solar installations could tie their arrays together and pay for just one connection to the Con Ed grid. City Room also reports that, at least according to Con Ed, it’s possible for a five kilowatt solar installation on residential buildings less than four units to drop from $40,000 to $9000 if an owner takes advantage of federal and state tax credits, as well as property tax abatements and other incentives. Within the proposed solar empowerment zones, additional incentives could be offered to drop that figure even further.

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