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Mayor Bloomberg floats New York City wind plan

Michael Bloomberg envisions an off-shore wind farm and small turbines on skyscrapers and bridges that would provide part of the city's electricity needs in coming years.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has staked out a claim for making New York City a clean-energy powerhouse through off-shore and on-building wind farms.

Bloomberg spoke at the National Clean Energy Summit at the University of Nevada Las Vegas on Tuesday where he outlined his proposal for more renewable energy in New York City and demanded a more serious discussion about national energy policy.

Headed for Gotham? Small wind turbines like the ones at Boston's Logan Airport. AeroVironment

To encourage local clean-power generation, he issued a request for expressions of interest for an off-shore wind farm, small-scale wind installations, and tidal power systems. Some estimates show that wind energy can supply 10 percent of the city's electricity needs within 10 years, he said.

"Perhaps companies will want to put wind farms atop our bridges and skyscrapers, or use the enormous potential of powerful off-shore winds miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, where turbines could generate roughly twice the energy that land-based wind farms can," Bloomberg said. "We want their best ideas for creating both small- and large-scale projects serving New Yorkers."

Cities like New York are leading efforts to tackle climate change, which Bloomberg said is a result of a "leadership vacuum" on the federal level. New York has a target of reducing the energy consumption at city agencies 30 percent by 2017.

Bloomberg criticized both presidential candidates' energy proposals, saying that some measures, such as lowering the gasoline tax and opening up the national petroleum reserve, were pandering to voters.

Instead, the country should have a comprehensive energy policy focused on energy efficiency and clean-energy production.

In addition to research and development in energy technology, he said investments in upgrading the power grid's reliability and transmission capacity are needed. Also needed are climate regulations, which he called the "proverbial elephant in the room," which would put a price on polluting, he said.

City power
Bloomberg's wind proposal faces the challenge of people who complain about the visual impact of wind turbines.

An off-shore project could allay those concerns, although one proposal off Long Island was scrapped because the costs were too high. The off-shore Cape Wind project in Massachusetts continues to move ahead despite opposition, and the state of Delaware also paved the way for off-shore wind farms.

Small-scale wind turbines, meanwhile, are becoming a more viable option. Logan Airport in Boston successfully tested an array of small turbines perched on building edges.

Vertical-axis turbines could be integrated into skyscrapers' architecture, Rohit Aggarwala, the director of New York's Office of Long-Term Planning Sustainability, told The New York Times.

"If rooftop wind can make it anywhere, this is a great city," he said. "We have a lot of tall buildings."

The city has also piloted a tidal energy-harvesting system last year but it suffered mechanical problems.

Responses to the city's request for expressions of interest are due September 19.

Bloomberg's call for home-grown clean energy, along with bulked up transmission lines and conservation measures, follows similar plans recently announced by high-profile figures T. Boone Pickens and Bill Clinton.