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S1 BLOG

Will Post-COVID Congestion Threaten Decades of Air Quality Improvements in NYC?

NYC Traffic

NYC TrafficAs we ease out of the COVID-19 PAUSE in NYC, one thing is making a comeback that nobody wants: traffic congestion. While businesses continue to reopen and more workers returning to their job sites, most people are leery of using mass transit, which can mean only one thing: More driving…which is putting decades of air quality improvements in jeopardy.

“We avoid 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year because of the MTA,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “If we’re swapping that with cars, which are less efficient to begin with, we are going to have a problem.”

Traffic on bridges and tunnels is down only 18 percent on average from its pre-pandemic levels. The number of vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district is only 15 percent below the volume seen ahead of the public health crisis, according to the city’s Department of Transportation. In early April, traffic was down roughly 60 percent from normal levels.

While subway ridership has rebounded from an all-time low, it’s still down roughly 78 percent from 2019 levels — with just more than one million riders using the system on weekdays. Buses have recovered more quickly, but ridership is still down 50 percent.

While environmental advocates have focused their efforts in recent years on targeting the largest source of emissions — city buildings — they acknowledge transit could become a greater concern in the Covid-19 era.

You can read more about this on Politico.com here.

 

From Polluting Peakers to Publicly-Owned Solar: Is This the Future?

Ravenswood Plant

Ravenswood PlantWestern Queens is the home of the Ravenswood Generating Station, the country’s 23rd largest power plant. Its gas-powered turbines consume millions of cubic feet of natural gas creating steam and steam-powered electricity. As a peaker plant, it is only supposed to come online a few times a year when electricity demand exceeds the capacity of normal plants, but with the increase in the numbers of visitors and residents to NYC in recent years, they have been needed more and more, especially in the evening hours when so many computers, televisions and other electronic devices are being used. And it is now known that the pollution they cause can create severe adverse health effects for the people who live in close proximity to them.

The impact of peaker plants on air quality, and contributing to respiratory illness, has left residents of the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn living in the vicinity of these plants more susceptible to COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted people of color in low-income areas. Living with long-term air pollution is deemed “a threat multiplier,” drastically impacting health outcomes, which also point to the disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19. Residents of the South Bronx, Western Queens, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn in particular have suffered the most from the siting of the city’s peaker plants.

And now solar power is being proposed as a way to mitigate the costs, both financial and human, of peaker plants.

In Sunset Park, Solar One’s Here Comes Solar team is providing technical training for community members as a partner to UPROSE, who are leading the construction of Sunset Park Solar, one of the nation’s first — and New York’s first — cooperatively-owned community solar project, on top of the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Community member subscribers to Sunset Park Solar will also be members of the New York City Community Energy Cooperative, and engage in decision-making meetings where they can vote and have a say in the future of the project.

Community organizations across the city are looking at Sunset Park Solar as a potential model for how community solar programs can work with city agencies and multiple types of partners.

You can read more about this on Gothamist.com here.

 

New York Announces More than $10.6 Million in New Grants for Environmental Justice

Social Justice NYC

Social Justice NYCAgainst the backdrop of renewed calls for racial justice nationwide in the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the state of New York announced on Tuesday a slate of grants totaling more than $10.6 million to help underserved residents access affordable solar energy. The grants will help offset predevelopment costs to address resource barriers that typically prevent low-income residents — particularly communities of color — from installing clean energy or energy storage in their homes.

The Empire State is set to provide individual grants of up to $200,000 each to affordable housing providers, community organizations, and technical service providers to assist low-income households and install solar and energy storage systems meant to benefit entire communities. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the government agency administering the program, will be hosting a webinar on July 14 to launch the grant opportunities and provide more information on the application process. The state will accept applications on a quarterly basis through the end of 2024.

This initiative is the result of New York’s landmark environmental justice legislation, which helped bring the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to life in January. The CLCPA made headlines for being the most ambitious emissions-reduction legislation in the country, thanks to its promise that the state will reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040. The CLCPA and the accompanying environmental justice bill require the state to make good on its commitments to address environmental injustice and invest in underserved and pollution-burdened communities. Tuesday’s announcement is part of that follow-through.

 

Celebrate Pride!

At Solar One, we are proud of our LGBTQI employees, partners, supporters, colleagues and friends.

 

Happy Pride Everyone. 

 

For more information on virtual events, participation and history, visit NYC Pride.

 

 

Celebrate Juneteenth with Free Online Events & Celebrations

Juneteenth image

Juneteenth imageAbraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which marked the final chapter of legalized human slavery in the United States. But down in Texas, no one was in a hurry to tell the 250,000 enslaved people there that they were free. They had to endure another two and a half years of forced servitude before General Gordon Granger read the Proclamation declaring them free on June 19, 1865 in Galveston.

Ever since, African Americans in Texas have celebrated Juneteenth as an alternative Independence Day, and the celebrations have now spread across Black America so that what was once confined to communities in Texas is now celebrated everywhere.

Tomorrow is a sobering Juneteenth. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic that has affected families of color disproportionately, and are also grappling with wave after wave of violence against Black people, a reminder that we still have a long way to go before we are all truly free. Even as protests have swept the nation and reforms to police departments are being seriously discussed in many communities, African Americans and other people of color continue to be subject to violence and discrimination based on the color of their skin.

We at Solar One want wish you a good and meaningful Juneteenth. Here are some events that you can join to commemorate Juneteenth from the comfort of your home.

Juneteenth Music Festival: Great lineup of hosts, DJs and love performers. Free global livestreaming event that runs all day on Thursday, into the night. https://www.juneteenthmusicfestival.com/

Carnegie Hall is livestreaming a speech/sermon by Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. of Riverside Church on Friday at 7:30pm: https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2020/06/19/Live-with-Carnegie-Hall-Juneteenth-Celebration-0730PM

Juneteenth Jubilee: A Night of Black Joy and Activism: A celebration with comedians, DJs, frontline organizers and more. Friday night starting at 7pm. Tickets are $5-20: https://www.caveat.nyc/event/juneteenth-jubilee-a-night-of-black-joy-and-activism-6-19-2020

Groundswell is hosting “Prepare for Power”, an evening with speeches from environmental justice activists/leaders and a live musical performance by Bartees Strange on Friday at 6pm: https://groundswell.org/prepareforpower/

Juneteenth Virtual Block Party hosted by the Coalition for Educational Justice on Friday at 12pm: www.eventbrite.com/e/juneteenth-action-virtual-block-party-tickets-109210601850

NYC Men Teach Virtual Juneteenth Education is Freedom program, Friday 4:15pm (teach-in) followed by a program from 5-7pm: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nycmt-showcase-education-is-freedom-celebrating-liberatory-pedagogy-tickets-104976597830

 Celebrating Juneteenth, Centre for Social Innovation, a musical performance and dialogue with Malik Work. Please note that this event is intended exclusively for Black People. Friday, 3-4pm: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrating-juneteenth-tickets-109699494140

The History of Juneteenth and Systemic Racism and Solutions, a discussion between Dr. James C. Anyike, Lead Servant/Pastor of Scott United Methodist Church and Tammy L. Cooper, Black History Educator and College Professor. Friday 12-1pm: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-history-of-juneteenth-and-systemic-racism-solutions-tickets-109006354942

May your celebrations give you joy and strength!

 
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