On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Freshkills Park on Staten Island, once the world’s largest landfill, will soon be converted into the city’s largest solar energy facility. Once completed, the plant will produce up to 10 megawatts of power — five times more than any solar energy system in the city and enough to power approximately 2,000 homes.
“We’ll be turning something which was a disaster into a benefit for the people of Staten Island, and for the environment,” said James Molinaro, Staten Island Borough President and major supporter of the project.
The installation will span 47 acres and will consist of up to 35,000 high-efficiency solar panels, installed and operated by Sun Edison at no cost to the city.
And New York isn’t stopping with renewable energy on the city’s former dump. According to the city, “the administration is moving forward with steps to officially map an additional 1,500 acres of Freshkills into parkland, officially bringing the total for Freshkills Park to 2,200 acres and bringing total parkland in New York City to more than 30,000 acres for the first time in history.”
The parkland will be mapped for a variety of uses and will have a provision for specific renewable energy sites, which will expedite and streamline the construction of the solar plant and potentially other renewable energy projects. “I’m certain that eventually we’ll have some windmills up there,” Molinaro said.
Fostering the market for renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are two key components of Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, released in 2007 and focused on making America’s largest city more resilient to the damaging effects of climate change.
Outside of the city, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a major proponent of solar energy, launching his successful NY-Sun initiative in 2012. Lawmakers are currently seeking a 10-year extension of NY-Sun, and while the legislative session expired before two versions of the bill could be reconciled this year, supporters are confident Cuomo will be able to sign the extension in the coming year.
This post has been updated. PlaNYC was released in 2007 and a second Bloomberg plan, “A Stronger, More Resilient New York,” was released in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.