Solar Could Save Money, Power Half of New York City’s Peak Demand

Savings gained from solar energy use may no longer be an abstract benefit for NYC residents. The NYC Solar America City Partnership has created an interactive map that allows people to gauge cost to invest in solar and total savings on energy over time. Cumulatively, the residents and businesses of NYC have the potential to save millions. You can see the map in action here.


Posted 6.30.2011 on

by John Ferrell


The City University of New York (CUNY) released a solar map of New York City last week, allowing building owners in the city to determine the amount of solar power their roof could host. The cumulative impact is enormous, with city rooftops capable of providing half the city’s peak power, and 14% of its annual electricity consumption.


The city should immediately maximize solar power development to save millions in electricity costs.


At $3.50 per Watt installed, and with the federal 30% investment tax credit (ITC), solar power in New York City can provide electricity at 16 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a full 4 cents lower than the average residential electricity price (as reported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PV Watts program).


Commercial installations that can also use the federal depreciation tax deduction could deliver electricity for nearly 12 cents per kWh, 40% lower than the average residential rate.



These prices are well within reach. Already in the U.S., aggregate purchasing has driven down residential solar PV prices as low as $4.22 per Watt. The average cost of rooftop solar PV installations in Germany is between $3.40 and $3.70 per Watt. In our new report, Democratizing the Electricity System, we show that even small-scale solar is being built for under $4 per Watt in the U.S.


As it turns out, when it comes to solar self-reliance, New York City is a microcosm of the state (in solar potential if not comparative electricity price). In our 2009 analysis, Energy Self-Reliant States, we found that New York’s statewide rooftop solar PV potential was 15% of its electricity consumption, almost identical to CUNY’s estimate of 14% of the city’s electricity use.


Whether immediately (NYC) or in the near future (NY state), it’s clear that rooftop solar PV is the route to greater energy self-reliance and electricity cost savings.


This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project.

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