Bloomberg Calls for Alternative Energy

By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 21, 2008

NEW YORK -- Outlining his vision for a dramatic reconfiguration of urban energy sources, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg says he is exploring potential for installing turbines and other alternative energy generators throughout New York City, in the water and on bridges and skyscrapers.

Speaking Tuesday evening at a conference in Las Vegas on alternative energy, Bloomberg said he will ask private companies to study how windmills, tidal turbines, and solar energy panels might be built, in an attempt to move the city toward reliance on renewable sources of energy.

"In New York," he said, "we don't think of alternative power as something that we just import from other parts of the nation."

His ideas could place New York at the forefront of a handful of cities across the nation seeking wind power and other alternative sources of energy.

A Chicago architect plans to tap into wind power for a new office, retail and residential skyscraper.

In San Francisco, Johanna Partin, the renewable energy program manager, said the city already has wind turbines on four homes and another on a city-owned museum. "We're really just kind of getting started," she said.

In Boston, the city is installing wind turbines at City Hall and at four schools, and it already has them at Logan International Airport and the electrical workers union.

New York City on Tuesday issued a request for expressions of interest to companies that might build wind-, solar- and water-based generators.

"We want their best ideas for creating both small- and large-scale projects serving New Yorkers," Bloomberg said. He said that offshore turbines could use wind power to generate 10 percent of the city's energy needs within a decade. Rooftop solar production, he said, could create nearly another 20 percent.

This is the most ambitious of Bloomberg's recent ideas to keep energy usage even as the city's population grows.

But his recent plan for congestion pricing -- in which vehicles would have been charged a fee to enter parts of Manhattan -- failed to pass the state legislature.

The city is already using a small tidal turbine in the East River that powers a supermarket on Roosevelt Island, an upscale island near the 59th Street Bridge, and another one is being installed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, aides to the mayor said.

Still, even the mayor's supporters acknowledge that large-scale wind turbine installations could be costly and a difficult sell to residents who do not want the devices near them.

It would also be difficult to implement any project of major scale in the less than 18 months the mayor has left in office.

But officials close to the project say that at this stage, it is an exploration of options that will continue beyond Bloomberg's tenure.

"You can't build an offshore wind turbine in 498 days, and we aren't going to have thousands of roofs paneled with solar panels in 498 days," said Jim Gallagher, the senior vice president for energy policy at the city's Economic Development Corp., alluding to the number of days left in the mayor's term. "This is a long-term project, and the mayor felt it's time we should be part of it."

At the conference, Bloomberg said he hopes the city can turn to enough renewable resources to cause a reduction in dependence on foreign oil.

He added: "I would think that it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants to our shores, but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean wind farm."

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