New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is launching a new initiative that will generate clean, emission free, solar electricity as well as begin to open up a new frontier of previously untapped revenue: the leasing of potentially millions of square feet of industrial roof space to companies interested in generating solar power.
Thanks to a steady fall in capital costs of solar panel and non-roof penetrating installation technologies, it is increasingly commonplace for industrial and warehouse buildings in the New York metropolitan region to place solar panels on their rooftops. This practice has also spread to buildings in public-sector portfolios, including universities and City buildings.
The MTA, the largest public transportation agency in the U.S., has identified more than 100 bus depots, train yards, repair shops, and commuter lots across all MTA agencies — totaling more than 10 million square feet of industrial roof space — which would be suitable for solar development. Fully realized, these properties present an opportunity to develop more than 100 megawatts of emission-free electricity for New Yorkers — enough to power 18,000 households. The MTA hopes to achieve a significant new revenue stream from this activity, with little to no capital investment of its own, by way of leasing the valuable real estate to companies that would use it to install solar panels and generate clean electricity to sell back to the municipal grid.
A Request for Proposals went public on Earth Day 2019. It proposes the solar development of seven MTA properties, belonging to NYC Transit, LIRR and Metro-North Railroad, generating an estimated 6.5 megawatts of emissions-free electricity for thousands of New York households. This RFP includes locations uniquely chosen to serve as a representative combination of existing roofs and parking lots.
All locations were carefully selected in partnership between the MTA Department of Environmental Sustainability and Compliance, MTA Real Estate, and the individual operating agencies. Chosen rooftops and parking lots fit the necessary requirements of having new roofs/new pavement, large quantities of unobstructed roof space, and local energy demand.