Wildfire smoke from Canada and the Western United States stretched across the continent this week, covering skies in a thick haze and triggering health alerts from Toronto to Philadelphia. Air quality remained in the unhealthy range across much of the East Coast on Wednesday morning as the haze pushed southward.
In recent weeks, a series of near-relentless heat waves and deepening drought linked to climate change have helped to fuel exploding wildfires. In southern Oregon, the Bootleg Fire grew so large and hot that it created its own weather, triggering lightning and releasing enormous amounts of smoke. But more than 80 large fires are currently burning across 13 American states, and many more are active across Canada.
Now, the effects are being felt thousands of miles from the flames.
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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced three gigawatts of solar have been installed across the state, enough to power more than half a million homes, underscoring New York’s leadership in growing one of the strongest solar markets in the nation. Since the launch of the NY-Sun initiative in 2011, solar has grown 2,100 percent statewide and declined in cost by 69 percent while fostering approximately 12,000 jobs across the state. When combined with the projects that are under development, achieving today’s milestone represents 95 percent of Governor Cuomo’s goal to install six gigawatts of solar by 2025, as mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
“Solar energy is a key component in New York’s transition to a clean energy economy as we work to reduce harmful emissions across the board and address the dual challenges of fighting climate change and rebuilding stronger post-pandemic,” said the governor. “The success of NY-Sun demonstrates we are on track to meeting our nation-leading energy goals while stimulating green job growth and economic recovery in communities across the state as part of our comprehensive plan to reimagine New York following the pandemic.”
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Check out this inspiring interview with Stephanie Sosa, a student who was part of the NYC Solar Schools Education program run by the NYC Department of Education in partnership with Solar One’s Green Design Lab. The program gets students excited about clean energy early on through K-12 classroom lessons and then offers a pathway to get solar job training, certification, and first-hand experience while in high school.
Thanks to the NYC Solar Schools Education Program, college student Stephanie Sosa got a jumpstart into her clean energy career while she was still in high school. She participated in Solar One’s virtual summer course as a high-school senior during the pandemic in June of 2020 and earned her NABCEP Solar PV Associate credential. With that training and experience as a foundation, she has decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at the NYC College of Technology to prepare for a career in clean energy. And kudos to CareerCLUE educators Geovani Caldero, Bruno Estrada and Alex Nathanson for their excellent work with students like Stephanie!
Generation180: What sparked your interest in solar and clean energy?
Stephanie Sosa: Ever since I was a little kid, my parents taught me to consider the earth a gift, because this is our home. I try my best to take care of it. In high school science class, we talked about ways we harm the earth, and the ways we can fulfill our human needs and wants. Solar and clean energy are the best way to fulfill our present needs without harming the earth and the ability of future generations to meet their needs. So, when I heard about Solar One’s virtual solar training for students, I applied right away.
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Straws Ban. This bill will restrict food-service establishments from providing single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and splash sticks to customers, with the exception of straws upon request. Food-service establishments will be required to stock non-compostable plastic straws to fulfill customer requests and would have to post signs advertising the straws’ availability at self-serve stations. Compostable plastic straws will be permitted to be given out upon request only for use on-premises, and only if the foodservice establishment properly separates and disposes of those straws through a commercial composting provider.
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Solar Panel installation at Queensbridge Houses with GCF Participants
On Earth Day this past Thursday, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced substantial
completion of 1.8 megawatts of rooftop solar arrays on 27 buildings across Queensbridge North
and Queensbridge South Houses, the largest public housing project in the country. This solar
installation is the first to reach completion as part of NYCHA’s solar program, and is a key
component of the NYCHA Sustainability Agenda commitment to host 25 megawatts of solar
power by 2025, which will make it the largest community shared solar project in New York City.
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Want an in-depth look at how Solar One is working with the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability to solarize our public schools? Check out this article from Solstice.us that includes a great interview with Amy Colorado, the Green Design Lab’s Program manager fro K-12 Curriculum & Instruction.
“Learning about buildings and how buildings use energy – that’s what sustainability looks like in the city of New York,” Amy said. “I’m incredibly thankful to have entered Solar One to be able to teach environmentalism that is relevant to NYC and its residents.”
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