MTA wants to lease rooftops for solar panel profits

The MTA is looking to add green roofs to its train yards, bus depots and other buildings to raise new revenue from companies looking to generate emissions-free energy.

The cash-strapped authority on Earth Day issued a request for proposals from companies interested in paying the MTA to lease its roof space to install solar panels, with the idea that those companies would then sell the generated energy back to the municipal grid.

“Green energy always had a dual benefit — it can help save the planet and it can be a big moneymaker as well,” said MTA chief development officer Janno Lieber in a statement. “The MTA is already one of the nation’s leading forces in reducing carbon emissions. The recently approved Central Business District Tolling system will also reduce emissions and generate funds for the MTA, and this common-sense, innovative new program will further help the environment while generating a significant amount of new revenue for the MTA.”

The transit authority owns more than 10 million square feet of industrial roof space on yards and depots, as well as commuter lots and repair shops. That space could generate 100 megawatts of solar energy for 18,000 households, according to the MTA.

But as with many an MTA project, the authority is starting small. The initial request pertains to seven sites, which it believes can generate 6.5 megawatts of energy, and the authority plans to begin negotiating with selected companies in September.