COUNCIL PASSES KOPPELL-SPONSORED BILLS TO ASSESS MOVING POWER LINES UNDERGROUND, INCREASE STORM WATER RETENTION & CREATE A RENEWABLE ENERGY WEB PORTAL
At its meeting on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, the Council approved a bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Oliver Koppell, a member of the Environmental Protection Committee, that authorizes a study to examine relocating overhead utility wires in vulnerable neighborhoods underground. The Council found that thousands of individuals in the outer boroughs where overhead power lines existed were without power for weeks, whereas parts of the city served by underground lines typically had service restored within a few days.
The study, to be conducted over a period of six months, would include an analysis of weather-related power outages over the last five years for both underground and above ground power lines, an examination of general network reliability for both types of power distribution and an estimate of the per-mile cost for undergrounding.
“I welcome this study,” Koppell said “which is particularly relevant to my district where the existence of overhead power lines in Fieldston resulted in a large number of outages and long delays in restoring power to that community. I have already asked Con Ed to bury the lines underground in Fieldston and I believe the results of this study will bolster my request.”
Legislation To increase Stormwater Retention and Increase Biodiversity
The Council also voted on legislation to require the Parks Department to develop a stormwater retention planting guide in order to use greenery to help manage stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows.
“Water from even mild rain storms can overwhelm the city’s sewer system, causing combined sewer overflows where stormwater and raw sewage are mixed and released into surrounding bodies of water untreated,” Koppell said. “The bill would result in city plantings being more stormwater tolerant in order to facilitate stormwater retention and filtration, procedures that will become even more important with the anticipated increase in the intensity of future storms.”
The Council also approved legislation to increase native plant species on city-owned properties. The bill requires the Parks Department to develop manuals to increase biodiversity in its landscape practices in order to minimize the space available for invasive, non-native plant species that are not suitable to the city’s climate.
Both the stormwater retention and biodiversity guides will be made available online for the public to use.
Creation of a Green Web Portal
In order to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city, the Council also approved the creation of a renewable energy web portal to promote the adoption of green energy systems, including solar, wind and geothermal. The web portal would inform the public about the feasibility and economic practicality of installing renewable energy resources in New York City.
“Taken together, these measures are forward thinking and will contribute towards the protection of our environment and mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change,” Koppell said.