By Victoria Merlino
It isn’t just a new fare hike that has the MTA seeing green.
The MTA on Monday announced a proposal to lease more than 10 million square feet of roof space on their buildings for companies interested in renewable energy to build solar panels. Fully realized, the project has the potential to produce more than 100 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 18,000 homes.
The initiative is projected to generate substantial revenue at little cost to the MTA, as companies would lease these spaces, add their own solar panels and generate electricity to sell back to the municipal grid.
“Green energy always had a dual benefit — it can help save the planet and it can be a big money-maker as well,” MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber said in a statement.
Seven MTA properties are considered as the first sites to host the initiative, including the Queens Village Bus Depot and the Jamaica Maintenance Facility for subways.
This plan would serve to increase Queens’ substantial solar power output. As of 2017, Queens is the second largest producer of solar power megawatts in New York City, generating 39.81 megawatts compared to Staten Island, which generates 46 megawatts, according to NY-Sun, a Gov. Andrew Cuomo-backed initiative to increase green energy use in New York.
“The MTA’s operations avert annual greenhouse gas emissions of more [than] 17 million metric tons, and this initiative will take our environmental leadership to a whole new level,” said MTA Director of Sustainability Projjal Dutta in a statement. “We have contributed to the Earth’s wellness by keeping millions of daily commuters out of cars and engendering compact development. With the Solar RFP the MTA will also become New York’s newest home for significant renewable power generation.”
Negotiations over the proposed sites are expected to begin this fall.