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Visionary Energy Plan Key to New York's Storm Strategy

Environment  (tags: alternative fuels, climate-change, CO2emissions, conservation, ecosystems, environment, globalwarming, pollution, research, science, Sustainabililty )

- 1829 days ago -
Together, a network of cleaner energy sources -- including solar and combined heat and power, which are proving successful in many places already -- emit less pollution than fossil fuels and can be a source of power if the grid goes down.

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Kit B (276)
Wednesday June 19, 2013, 2:37 pm
PHOTO CREDIT: NOAA | NASA. - Hurricane Sandy

Last Tuesday (June 12), I caught a ferry from the lower Manhattan waterfront (just south of the substation that shorted out so dramatically in the midst of Hurricane Sandy) to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled his vision of a New York that will be far better able to withstand the battering from giant storms that, thanks to climate change, are likely to arrive with increased frequency and fury.

The mayor began by noting some stark facts:

"We expect that by mid-century, up to one-quarter of all of New York City's land area, where 800,000 residents live today, will be in the floodplain."

"[W]ithin FEMA's new 100-year flood maps, there are more than 500 million square feet of New York City buildings equivalent to the entire city of Minneapolis."

"About two-thirds of our major substations and nearly all the city's power plants are in floodplains today."

"A day without power can cost New York City more than a billion dollars."

A lot of media attention in the wake of the speech focused on Bloomberg's call for levees and seawalls to keep rising waters at bay. Yet, embedded in the address was also an ambitious, but practical, rethinking of how New York City makes and uses energy. The plan frames a future in which solar, wind and micro-grids play a much larger role in the city's energy mix.

"Our plan calls for utilities and regulators to diversify the sources of energy feeding the city, to fix rules that hinder the growth of distributed generation, including for customers who want to generate their own power, and to work with the city to evaluate and adopt micro-grid pilots," Bloomberg added.

Together, a network of cleaner energy sources including solar and combined heat and power, which are proving successful in many places already emit less pollution than fossil fuels and can be a source of power if the grid goes down. The key is to set up the rules of the grid so that homes and businesses can choose to build renewable and resilient systems into their buildings as a matter of routine.

Getting the rules right will require cooperation at many levels. New York City's energy future is largely in the hands of regulators and companies not directly under the control of city government. As a result, change on the scale proposed by Bloomberg will take unprecedented collaboration among government agencies, and among government, utilities, financial leaders, the real estate community and local communities.

The challenge now is to make these visions a reality. Many of the rules that need to be changed are set by the New York State Public Service Commission. The city will need new rules governing the grid in order to allow for the easy integration of renewable energy sources, using ideas like demand-response to make sure we take full advantage of sunny and windy days.

We will also need to scale up ideas, like on-bill repayment, to attract private capital to the task of retrofitting buildings so that they can use cleaner power sources. And, we need to make these solutions work for a city with buildings and neighborhoods as diverse as Wall Street, Red Hook, the Rockaways, Harlem, the South Bronx and Staten Island.

Overall, it's encouraging to me to see city (and state) leaders stepping forward with visions that point toward a future in which New York will both help keep its lights on in a storm and cut the emissions that are linked to climate change .

The stakes are high. Check out these facts:

The current rate of global sea-level rise is twice as fast as during the 20th century.

2012 was the warmest year on record in the continental United States.

More than half of the world's population now lives in cities.

75 percent of urban settlements are located in coastal areas.

Let's get to work.
See Weather -v- Climate Quiz at VISIT SITE (bottom of page)

By: Andy Darrell | Live Science |

Andy Darrell, New York regional director and chief of energy strategy for the Environmental Defense Fund, contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.


JL A (281)
Wednesday June 19, 2013, 3:37 pm
I applaud the vision and hope he can make it work in the near future so that other cities and states can and will do likewise.

AWAY AWHILE Cal Mendelsohn (1067)
Thursday June 20, 2013, 4:54 pm
A really excellent article Kit. Gas stations must also all have back up generators. That was a huge problem post Sandy in this area.

Thanks for posting this!

Theodore Shayne (56)
Thursday June 20, 2013, 5:16 pm
I think all major cities need to look at programs like these. Toronto certainly needs to.

Kit B (276)
Thursday June 20, 2013, 6:31 pm

Cities don't just need a plan, they need to accept that this can happen any where at any time and start building toward a safer future. If not a hurricane, an earthquake, wild fire, drought flood or who knows what is lurking in the not so distant future. The idea of hiring a mayor and city council is not to pave their future political dreams but to direct the best possible plans for our cities with the first issue being public safety.

Ruth R (246)
Thursday June 20, 2013, 7:07 pm
Thank You Kit. Good that people are planing and beginning to think these things through -- with the hope that this will be good enough. It is a good start -- considering that hopefully nothing worse will happen.
In the worst case: We need each person build your own and one for neighbor who cannot build -- but can read or hold the children or can cook. We need to build boats like submarines that fly and have wheels and no need for fuel -- to escape the flooding, earthquakes, tsunami's, big waves, bi storms. mud slides, lava flows -- so

This is for all around the world. People need to build with what ever they can and move to places that will not flood or have other disastors AND BE READY TO MOVE ---BECAUSE -- WHAT EVER IS CAUSING ALL THESE PROBLEMS ON EARTH -- SADLY -- IF IT WILL NOT STOP -- we as people around the whole world -- need to be ready.

Not that you did not know this. Seems like no matter where you are -- You may or may not -- survive with or without preparation. The fact is might as well get as many people ready as possible.

greenplanet e (155)
Thursday June 20, 2013, 7:15 pm
Would like to see solar as a solution.

Kit B (276)
Thursday June 20, 2013, 7:19 pm

Solar and wind and water, be adaptable to regions.

Paulett Simunich (0)
Thursday June 20, 2013, 7:30 pm
Happy to read the Mayor of NYC is on top of least he is working on it !!!!!!

Lois Jordan (63)
Saturday June 22, 2013, 5:32 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit. While I hate to be a naysayer, I just hope that ALL of New York City is taken into consideration. I would hate to just see the Wall St. and "upper income" areas protected while other areas are neglected. Interesting.
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