8 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 29, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Solar panels project at Queensbridge Houses nearly complete
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
A major solar panels project at
Queensbridge Houses, installed on the
Astoria public housing development’s
rooft ops by a team of NYCHA tenants, is
Twenty-seven buildings in
Queensbridge North and South will host
a 1.8-megawatt community solar array
as part of a citywide program meant to
bring renewable and aff ordable energy to
low- and moderate-income New Yorkers
as well as train NYCHA residents for
careers in green energy. Th e project, fi rst
announced in 2017, began construction
in August 2020.
Most of the panels are already installed
and working on the buildings, according
to Chris White, program associate of
NYCHA’s Energy and Sustainability team.
Th e project is set to be fully completed by
the end of May.
“Across all the rooft ops, this project
will provide power to about 470 households,
including at least 100 of which will
be verifi ed low and moderate income,”
White said. “Having this local generation
here will really help with the electric
While the power generated from the
solar panels can go to some households
in NYCHA that pay their own
electric bills, it doesn’t include households
in Queensbridge since their electricity
is provided by the New York Power
White said NYCHA couldn’t set up the
solar panels project so that they could buy
the power and off er it to residents due to
NYPA limitations, as the housing complex’s
buildings are master metered.
“Th at’s one of the things we were trying
to do when we were fi rst setting up this
project,” White said, adding that NYPA
already has lower rates than Con Edison.
Instead, NYCHA is leasing roof space
to the project’s developers, whose rent
will generate revenue for the agency
and will be directed to their operating
funds. Sol Purpose is the developer of
the Queensbridge solar panels project, in
partnership with Bright Power, Solstice,
Green City Force, Solar One and Venture
Matt Russotti, CEO of Sol Purpose, said
designing and engineering the silicon
solar panels was a feat in itself given the
limited space of the rooft ops.
“It’s a testament to the project and to
the work we’re doing and that NYCHA
has done,” Russotti said.
An important aspect of the project was
hiring and training 13 full-time NYCHA
residents, half of whom are residents of
Queensbridge, Russotti said.
Th ey were trained by Green City Force
(GCF), a nonprofi t that prepares youth
in low-income housing communities for
green jobs and off ers sustainability education.
Part of the training process involved
workers receiving OSHA certifi cation and
training that helped them cultivate the
skills they needed for solar installation
Aram Marcelle, alumni training and
advancement manager at GCF, said their
workforce program is dedicated to helping
Photos by Angélica Acevedo
youth in NYCHA connect to job
opportunities of the future.
“Historically, people of color have been
excluded from these types of jobs and are
underrepresented in this fi eld,” Marcelle
said. “Our mission is to make the sustainable
movement an inclusive movement,
because we can’t get a sustainable city if
it’s not inclusive.”
Johan Ortiz, 22, a resident of NYCHA’s
Albany housing in Brooklyn, graduated
from GFC’s eight-month program and
then began working at Queensbridge.
Ortiz, who previously worked as an
electrical worker with a family member,
said working on the program took a lot of
dedication, but was worth it.
“I was struggling a bit more than the
fi rst couple days, because I was completely
new to the fi eld,” Ortiz said. “But once I
hit like a week or two, that’s when I started
to pick up the pace and understand
how the system works. So, that’s when I
started to learn all these skills, be on my
own and help other crew members in
order to get the job done.”
Th e program’s progress represents a
signifi cant milestone in NYCHA’s eff orts
to host a total of 25 megawatts of solar
power in multiple housing complexes
across the city by 2025.
Johan Ortiz, 22, a NYCHA resident who worked on the solar panels project in Queensbridge Houses.
Queensbridge Houses hosts 1.8 megawatts of community solar array.
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