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MTA looks to rooftop solar power to raise much-needed funds

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The transit authority plans to lease more than 100 rooftops to generate renewable energy

The roof of the Coney Island Maintenance Facility with proposed solar panel renderings.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The MTA is transforming the roofs of its bus depots and train yards into solar fields.

The cash-strapped transit authority is looking to lease more than 10 million square feet of rooftop space at dozens of its buildings to companies that will install solar panels. Once fully realized, the project could generate over 100 megawatts of renewable energy—enough to power 18,000 households in New York.

The effort is the authority’s latest bid to generate sorely needed revenue, joining experiments in digital advertising and newsstand vending machines to utilize every scrap of space in the system.

“Green energy always had a dual benefit—it can help save the planet and it can be a big money-maker as well,” MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber said in a statement.

For the first phase of the initiative, the MTA put out a Monday request for proposal for seven properties belonging to NYC Transit, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad to generate some six and a half megawatts of clean electricity for New York households.

Those spaces include bus depots and maintenance facilities in Brooklyn and Queens, and parking lots in the Hudson Valley. Tours for interested bidders will be held in May with negotiations expected to begin in September. The MTA would not say when it anticipates the full roll out of the initiative.

The agency embarked on a similar undertaking in 2008 when, amid a push to be more environmentally friendly, it outfitted about a dozen bus depots, warehouses, and other facilities with solar panels. More recently, in 2014, the authority tested solar-powered kiosks to provide Metro-North riders with arrival estimates at the Woodlawn station in the Bronx.