Solar Energy Grows In New York City Area

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They’re still a very small piece of the energy puzzle in the nation’s largest megalopolis, but New York City and adjoining Westchester County saw a big jump in home and business solar power installations last year. Con Edison said its customers put in 203 photovoltaic systems in 2010, compared with 134 in 2009, boosting capacity to 8.5 megawatts (MW) from 4.0 MW.

The number of new installations in Westchester actually fell, from 77 to 59. And in the Bronx installations dipped from 18 to 17. But the four other New York City boroughs saw substantial increases, more than making up for those declines. Queens was the king of solar, with installations quadrupling from 16 to 64. New capacity there grew by 335 kilowatts (kW) in 2009 and by 1,538 kW in 2010.

Con Edison, New York solar installations

image via Con Edison

How’d it happen? Con Edison said it was part of a plan.

“We reached out to our customers and explained the economic and environmental benefits of using sun power in their homes and businesses,” said Robert Schimmenti, Con Edison’s vice president for engineering and planning. “We shortened our approval process for residential systems – those under 25 kW – and created a website where customers can submit their applications.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.