Solar Energy Agreement Leads To More Bickering Between Scott Stringer and Mike Bloomberg


Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer did not miss an opportunity to criticize the mayor’s office this afternoon — but not before the mayor preemptively brushed aside negative comments from Stringer, who hopes to replace Mike Bloomberg as mayor in 2013.

The back and forth between the two elected officials — who clash on a fairly regular basis — was about solar energy.

Bloomberg, standing in the new offices of a tech start-up called Efficiency 2.0, announced today that the city has tripled its production of solar power with new panels on ten buildings. These projects throughout the five boroughs, Bloomberg said, increase the city’s total solar production to 648 kilowatts, which is enough to power 143 households and will cut 205 metric tons of carbon emissions as well as save money on annual energy costs. The efforts are part of the city’s larger sustainability initiatives under the umbrella of its PlaNYC agenda.

At the press conference, the mayor announced that the city would be hosting its first ever “green hackathon” event this summer, which is aimed at encouraging the development of digital tools tied to sustainability efforts. (Innovation, guys! It’s a number one priority for Mike).

“From city administrative buildings in Queens to firehouses in the Bronx and Brooklyn to sanitation garages on Staten Island…to [a] senior center in Harlem, we’ve recently finished installing energy efficient lighting at 12 sites throughout New York City,” he said, referring to another energy initiative of the city. “These upgrades…will save New Yorkers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.”

Since PlaNYC was launched five years ago, the city has completed a total of 143 energy retrofits and clean energy installations — and have 99 projects in design and construction. These together reduce the city’s energy costs around $32 million a year, Bloomberg said. “So it’s real money, and that’s an annual savings. You can have an awful lot more teachers, police officers, and firefighters for $32 million dollars a year.”

He added, “It is in our power to give our city a sustainable future.”

Stringer, who has basically announced his bid for mayor, took today’s announcement as an opportunity to send out a somewhat snarky statement that criticized the pace of the city’s solar investments and pushed his own energy agenda.

But even before that statement was emailed out, Bloomberg brushed aside any possible insults that might come from Stringer’s office in response to a reporter’s question about the borough president’s criticisms earlier this year that the mayor’s office hadn’t invested enough in clean energy.

“You know, he criticizes the city on everything,” Bloomberg said about Stringer. “The bottom line is we’re trying to do things as much as we can and if we could get more capital funds from Washington, we certainly have shown we know how to use them. If the borough president would give up…some of the perks that he wants…money he divys out to people on small projects that he thinks are important, we’d be happy to use some of that money to put more solar panels on roofs,” he said.

Shortly after the conference ended, Stringer’s team sent out a statement that said, “I suggest that the Mayor re-read my report, “Rooftop Revolution,” which offered constructive ideas for expanding the City’s solar capacity. The increase in New York City’s solar capacity over the last six years is welcome news. But to put the Mayor’s announcement in perspective, in the last two years, New Jersey installed over 440 megawatts of solar energy. Today, the City is announcing that we have increased our capacity to 8 megawatts.”

The statement goes on to describe how his office has been dedicated to the expansion of solar energy for years, with Stringer saying, “I long ago put my money where my mouth is. We have pledged $3 million in capital funds for a pilot program to install solar panels on public school roofs in FY13.”

He adds, “The fact is that New York still has a long way to go in order to get up to speed with our neighbors.”

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