City eyes hydropower
by Heather Senison
Apr 24, 2012 | 202 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City Council passed a bill last week to require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to assess the city's water resources to see if it is economically feasible to use them to generate power, which would add New York to the short list of cities that use hydropower in the United States.

The city's water sources include its supply system, treatment facilities and natural bodies of water, including the Hudson River.

Speaker Christine Quinn said before a stated meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, April 18, that the bill falls in line with the city's goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.

The bill follows other environmental legislation the Council passed recently, including the Climate Protection Act, which reduces energy usage in the city's tallest buildings.

In addition, Verdant Power was recently awarded the first pilot license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to use turbines to harness tidal power in the East River to provide energy for Roosevelt Island.

“Don't forget, New York City's prominence as a city began because it was a river city and because it was a port and some time ago, although I'm not sure why, we literally and figuratively turned our backs on the river,” Quinn said. “Thankfully, in a lot of ways, with ferries to the Hudson River Park to now this, we are re-embracing our identity as a river city in a way that has a potential to help us in getting us less reliant on fossil fuels.”

Environmental Committee chair, Councilman James Gennaro, said the water that comes to the city has about 500 pounds of pressure per square inch by the time it reaches the pumps here, which can equate to about 15 to 20 megawatts of power.

“This is a real growth industry, a thing that many people are embracing around the country,” Gennaro said. “This study is much larger than past projects, it looks at the entirety of our system and everything that we can get from it.”

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