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S1 BLOG

How to Keep On Composting

Composting

CompostingWe at Solar One are all about composting our food scraps, and we were sad to see the curbside collection program get suspended as the city tries to cope with COVID-related budget cuts. The Sanitation Department’s composting budget was slashed 90% and likely won’t be restored until 2021…but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep composting in the meantime.

Composting can be an accessible waste management tool that has many environmental benefits. It can reduce landfill waste: more than one-third of New York City’s residential waste stream could be composted. It also fights climate change locally by cutting carbon emissions from transporting trash and slashing methane emissions generated by organic waste in landfills. Compost creates fertilizer that NYC distributes to community gardens, urban farms, neighborhood parks, and street tree beds, improving community welfare and the local environment. In 2019, 3.2 million pounds of food scraps were collected in New York City.

But there are still a few ways to continue composting during the pandemic. Some food scrap drop-off sites are still open and can be found on this interactive map or this regularly updated list.

You can read a bit more about this on the NYLCV website here. And you can also check out our GDL webinar next week for more composting and sustainable career info- check out the article below to learn more!

 

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.

 

 
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