NY Merchandiser Installs Zero-Energy Solar Power

City Merchandise, New York’s largest and one of the nation’s mostcomprehensive souvenir distributors, recently installed arooftop-mounted 68.4-kilowatt system on its Sunset Park (Brooklyn)building.

For City Merchandise, which distributes memorabiliafor over 35 U.S. cities, the installation represents an opportunity togo “zero-energy”; that is, the solar system provides all of CityMerchandise’s electricity needs now and well into the next quartercentury. In addition, the 68.4-kilowatt system is now Brooklyn’slargest commercial solar electricity system. The second-largest (andthe nation’s largest net-metered solar installation) is a 40-kilowattsystem at Big Sue LLC at 925 Bergen Street.

The system wasfunded in part by the New York State Energy Research and DevelopmentAuthority, or NYSERDA, an organization funded by the state’s utilityratepayers. NYSERDA operates New York Energy Smart, or Power Naturally,which is the operational arm for promoting and developing environmentalinitiatives like energy efficiency and renewable energy.

NYSERDA’scontribution to the City Merchandise solar installation was $252,880 –a project NYSERDA President and CEO Francis J. Murray Jr. has called “afine example” of what the state is trying to achieve under GovernorDavid A. Paterson’s stated “45 by 15” goal. That is, 45 percent of thestate’s energy needs provided by alternative energy by 2015.

NewYork’s renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, calls for 25 percent ofall energy coming from renewable sources by 2013. This RPS wasinstituted by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) onFebruary 19, 2003, at the request of Gov. Paterson, and put into effecton September 24, 2004, raising the portion of renewables from its 2004baseline of 19.3 percent to the 25-percent goal in four years.

Thoughmost of the state’s RPS is funded by utility rate increases, onepercent also comes from voluntary renewable energy purchases made bycustomers, through Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs. These helppromote the continuing development of renewable energy sources likesolar by providing a “financial backbone” for developers.

CityMerchandise’s solar system was installed by Brooklyn-based Solar EnergySystems, LLC (SES), the firm which also installed the Big Sue solarphotovoltaic system in January. SES is solar installer/integrator whoselargest project, to date, is a 341.6-kilowatt system at Milford,Connecticut-based Pilgrim Furniture.

In 2008, the InterstateRenewable Energy Council, or IREC, ranked New York sixth in installed,grid-tied solar photovoltaic capacity with 22 megawatts of solar energy.