Earlier this year, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer published a report entitled “Rooftop Revolution,” which proposes to install solar panels on the rooftops of New York City public school buildings.  Public school buildings generally have large footprints and expansive rooftops.  According to the report, 1,094 schools in New York City have roofs that could support the installation of solar panels, a number that equates to approximately 20,784,425 square feet of usable space for solar panels.  The report estimates that a full build-out of solar panels on public school roofs would increase solar capacity in the five boroughs by over 2,500 percent (in other words, this newly created space would have the capacity to host enough megawatts to power approximately 1,000 homes), eliminate approximately 76,696 tons of carbon from the air each year (the equivalent of planting over 400,000 trees), and could create approximately 5,423 green collar jobs.  If enacted, this proposal would also provide students with a firsthand renewal energy education, and create new opportunities for the region’s clean tech industry.

The financial viability of Mr. Stringer’s proposal hinges on the inclusion of renewable energy credits in the Solar Jobs Act, a bipartisan bill pending in the New York State legislature that would require electric providers and utility suppliers to increase their procurement of electricity from solar-generated electricity.  The renewable energy credits would offset the costs associated with procuring and installing the solar panels.  Without such credits, the program would have to rely on the traditional public financing model, which would reportedly cost an estimated $950 million in New York City funds, a prohibitively expensive amount.

“Rooftop Revolution” asks the Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability to present a comprehensive plan that identifies the schools that should be given top priority for panels and sets a timeline for solar panels on every public school building that could support them.

An electronic copy of the report can be downloaded here.