Thursday, April 21, 2011

Energy Loan Plan

New York City will open a new corporation that will operate a loan program to fund projects that save energy and reduce utility bills, Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to say Thursday as part of a major policy address.
Four years after releasing PlaNYC—a comprehensive sustainability plan for the city's future—Mr. Bloomberg is slated to re-launch the initiative with updated plans and new policy proposals. The speech is to be delivered at the Harlem Stage, a performing-arts venue in upper Manhattan.
In addition to the new corporation, the mayor will discuss plans to create new solar power plants on top of large areas of capped city landfills, aides said Wednesday. These plants could significantly improve local air quality by reducing power generation at the city's dirtiest plants during periods of peak summer demand, aides said.
Daniel Bragdon, the mayor's sustainability director, said the Bloomberg administration will create the New York City Energy Efficiency Corp., which will use $37 million in federal funding to make loans to property owners interested in energy-efficiency upgrades to their buildings.
"The corporation could loan money, or the [building] owner might go to his conventional bank and get a loan there that is backed by this corporation," Mr. Bragdon explained. "The point is—how do you make this $37 million revolve and go further."
Mr. Bragdon said officials are still assessing what's the most effective role this federal money can play in the marketplace. It is premature, he said, to speculate on how many buildings could be upgraded as a result of the funding.
"We'll devise different programs for different niches of the market," he said.
These energy improvements, officials said, will pay for themselves over time and help the city reach its goal of a "30% reduction in 2005 carbon emissions."
Mr. Bragdon said the city is also exploring public-private partnerships to create large-scale solar power plants on municipal landfills. Officials are looking at landfills in Brooklyn, as well as Fresh Kills on Staten Island, he said.
Four years ago, when Mr. Bloomberg first launched PlaNYC, the most controversial proposal was the mayor's call to charge motorists $8 to enter the most congested parts of Manhattan. The proposal was based on London's successful congestion-pricing program.
"You know, it sounds like a lot of money, but you go to a movie, it's $12," the mayor said at the time. "So, let's, you know, put some of this stuff in perspective here."
The proposal ultimately failed to win approval in Albany.

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