When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg goes to Vegas, he bets big. At an alternative energy conference, perhaps bullied by T Boone Pickens, the mayor proposed installing wind turbines, among other power-generating technologies, on Manhattan’s skyscrapers and bridges. And why not: aiming to slash the city’s greenhouse emissions by a third by 2030 is rather ambitious.
The mayor also proposed ocean wind farms off the coast and solar panels across the city’s rooftops. He’s dreaming big (Statue of Liberty powered by wind farms) while keeping the character of the neighborhood when it comes to the turbines (“If there is a large ape that starts climbing the Empire State Building, it might get in his way” – yes, that is our mayor speaking.
Unfortunately, just like in Vegas, there’s no easy money in New York. As mentioned earlier, Manhattan is no Chicago: in the first place, its winds are not optimal for generating wind power, although they have been installed in Battery Park City. Surprised by such a statement from the city’s captain, engineers also pointed out that placing wind turbines on skyscrapers would require not only structural retrofitting to accommodate the swinging, but something even more daunting: getting insurance.
Wind farms off the coast have also not fared well so far: the Long Island Power Authority’s plan off Jones Beach in Long Island has been shelved due to skyrocketing costs. On the other hand, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro thinks that his plan for a wind farm on top of the Fresh Kills landfill may get a boost from the mayor’s optimism.
There is hope for renewable energy, however, even in Manhattan: solar power, on the other hand, seems more feasible: according to one expert, not only is New York more sunny than windy, solar panel installation would pay for itself in four years, vs. 25 for wind turbines.
Asked about his big-swinging-ahem remarks in Vegas, Bloomberg was very clear:
“I have absolutely no idea whether that makes any sense from a scientific, from a practical point of view,” he said.