Since the days of Governor Alfred Smith, New York has been at the cutting edge of labor, social, and environmental issues. Clean energy and environment are areas in which we can dramatically improve and serve, as in the Smith era, as a model for innovation statewide and nationally. Here are improvements for which I will advocate.
- Solar Energy. I will use the bully pulpit and promote tax incentives to encourage placing solar panels and batteries on rooftops of city buildings. Let’s start by doing this on municipal and state government buildings.
- Clean Cars & Buses. I will promote the conversion of all city/state vehicles to hybrid cars (and pure electric when possible). I will incentivize the public to convert by giving 50-percent discounts on tolls to all hybrids and electric vehicles.
- Electric/Hybrid Taxis & Car Service. I will propose legislation requiring all taxis and car-service vehicles to be steadily converted to electric/hybrid within 10 years.
- Electric Buses. I will propose legislation to have the MTA convert all buses to pure electric when possible and to be more attractive as well with a new fleet of buses designed to look like trolleys and trams of past New York.
- Electric Charge Stations. I will propose legislation to create electric charging stations citywide so that all electric vehicles can quickly charge anywhere.
- Solar Lights. Convert all traffic lights, walk signs, street lamps, and parking meters to solar energy. This has become common in other cities, where we see small solar panels attached to devices. It is true that energy collected from sunlight is limited during cloudy seasons/days (and nonexistent at night), but electrical devices can make use of sunlight as much as possible and store energy in batteries. Electrical devices will still be connected to the electric grid so that they work when sunlight is limited. Furthermore, street lamps collecting solar energy all day may last quite a while by using energy stored during the day. Think of the savings our city will have when thousands of devices no longer have to use expensive, gas-burning electricity.
- Waste-to-Energy. We can build waste-to-energy trash disposal plants to better deal with trash and create energy at the same time.
- Tolls. By putting tolls on East River bridges below 70th Street and during key commuter hours, we can encourage greater use of mass transit, decrease the number of cars burning gas and causing pollution, and lower congestion as more and more people use subways and buses (which is the whole point of mass transit). We can do so much more to encourage this and thereby become more environmentally conscious and patriotic.
- Wind Energy. We can do more to encourage use of free wind for energy.
- Tidal Energy. The sea moves endlessly. We can get electricity from ocean tides. This is an area our city can explore and promote. The technology is there. We have to increase awareness of this energy source and take action. An ocean surrounds us. Let’s make use of it.
- Upstate Jobs. With vast demand for solar panels, batteries, etc., let’s ensure that by law these products will be manufactured in New York State. Let’s help our upstate brethren to grow industries and create mass numbers of jobs. Furthermore, such a comprehensive plan will encourage upstate legislators to look more fondly upon a clean-energy plan. They should benefit from this. Let people in economically depressed areas like Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester get more industries and jobs. They certainly need help.
- Con Ed. Place electrical grids/stations underground. We saw the consequences of poor decisions like having important electric centers at street level or below after Superstorm Sandy hit. In the future, let’s be prepared and not have poorly planned facilities that are dangerously vulnerable to floods.
- Subway Lighting. Subways need light all day long. Let’s explore ways to get this power supply from street-level solar panels.
- Wind Turbines. All high-rises can use wind energy. They have roofs. Energy during the day can be stored in batteries, especially during weekends when buildings are largely empty. Battery technology is rapidly improving. Let’s take advantage of it.
- Conservation. We see stores or tall buildings with lights on all night. Why? Chances are that those floors are empty. We can do so much better. Let’s heavily fine buildings and stores that unnecessarily keep lights on at night. That’s a great way to lower carbon emissions while simultaneously saving companies money through lower electric bills. Auto-turn-off technology can help stop wasteful practices.
- Trees. We can plant millions more trees citywide to help the environment.
- Fresh Kills. We could turn Fresh Kills into a source of power.
As you can see, there are many smart things we can do to help the cause of a cleaner environment and be a role model for the rest of the nation. Let’s do our part and take strong measures to promote a cleaner environment.