Clean Energy

New N.J. Battery Storage System Boosts Renewables

The atlantic  county, N.J., Utilities Authority wastewater treatment plant in Atlantic City brought its renewable-energy battery-storage system (see photo above) on line on April 16, allowing for the capture of up to 1 megawatt per hour of energy produced by the site’s 7.5-MW wind farm and about 500 kilowatts from solar panels. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities awarded a $417,000 grant to help fund the project under the state’s clean energy program, the first time such financing has been used for a battery-storage system. Viridity Energy Solutions Inc.  was EPC contractor and will own and operate the system. Design firm RETTEW was the project’s design-build manager. Calvi Electric was electrical contractor, and Johnson Controls provided the system itself. The treatment plant now obtains 60% of its own daily energy from the onsite wind and solar sources.


Cuomo Proposes $125B NY Investment as More TZ Bridge Is Recycled

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo  (D) is proposing  to spend $125 billion on infrastructure improvement projects in the state over the next five years, the Associated Press reported on May 8. That total would include state and federal funding along with leveraged private-sector capital for upgrades to transportation, affordable housing and clean water infrastructure. Cuomo’s announcement came as he witnessed the lowering of sections of the 62-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge main span onto Hudson River barges for recycling or use as artificial reefs. The second span of its $4-billion replacement, named for his father, the late former Gov.  Mario M. Cuomo, is set to open for traffic by the end of the year.


NY and NJ Boost Laws on Sexual Harassment and Compensation Gaps

Amendments enacted in April to New York City and state laws expand employee sexual-harassment bans to outside contractors, vendors and service providers, effective immediately. State rule changes also ban, by July 11, mandatory arbitration and nondisclosure clauses in sexual-harassment pacts “unless it is the express wish of the claimant” to include one, says an update by New York City-based law firm Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP. As of Oct. 9, employers must distribute anti-harassment policies and start anti-harassment training. By Jan. 1, bids on certain state contracts must include language affirming the policy and training. The state training mandate applies to firms with four or more employees; the city training rule covers city-based employers with 15 or more staff, effective April 1, 2019. State law now also allows three years from the date of an alleged misconduct incident for filing a sexual harassment claim, up from one year. The city law amendments now allow a claim against a city-based employer with just one employee. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) enacted a comprehensive equal-pay law that will extend legal protections and relief beyond gender to all classes of employees protected under state antidiscrimination laws, says state-based attorneys with Fisher Phillips LLP. The new law will take effect on July 1.

Cross Border Energy

$1.8B Combined Cycle Plant Eyed in NJ to Power NYC Homes

North Bergen Liberty Generating, a subsidiary of power producing company Diamond Generating Corp., announced plans in April to build a $1.8-billion natural gas combined-cycle power plant in North Bergen, N.J., that would power 1.2 million residences in New York City. Barring delays, the plant could start construction in 2019 and operate by 2022. The project was awaiting approval at press time from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental agencies.

Big Data

NYC Buildings Dept. Enhances Its Dashboard

The New York City Dept. of Buildings has launched two new construction tracking tools on its NYC Construction Dashboard. The 2017 Elevator Report offers data on “everything that went up and down in 2017,” according to its announcement, including passenger elevators, wheelchair lifts, dumbwaiters and even Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel (see photo above) and the Cyclone roller coaster. A new real-time interactive map of sidewalk shed permits helps users determine whether or not a sidewalk-covering structure’s permit is still valid. As new sheds rise or their permits expire, the map is updated with blue dots to represent only properly permitted structures.


MTA Board OKs $300M for Subway Station ADA Access Compliance

The MTA board on April 25 approved an amendment that increases investment in Americans with Disabilities Act-accessibility projects as part of its 2015-2019 capital plan. It earmarks $300 million for critical subway station improvements at key locations: $200 million for elevator and related enhancements and $100 million for redesigned stairs, mezzanines and platforms. “We are putting an increased focus on accessibility with all of our planning moving forward,” MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a release. According to an online report in NY Metro, less than 25% of the city’s nearly 500 subway stations are ADA-compliant.


IDC Foundation Awards $7M in AEC School Grants

The foundation of the now-defunct Brooklyn-based Institute of Design and Construction (IDC) said on  May 9 that it awarded $7.3 million in grants to five New York City universities  to support education in architectural design, engineering and building construction. IDC was a nonprofit technical college that educated more than 30,000 students between its founding in 1947 and its closing in 2015, says an announcement. The sale of its former site funded its grant-making endowment. Schools awarded grants for scholarships, faculty positions, new facilities and other needs are The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Pratt Institute, New York Institute of Technology, New York University Tandon School of Engineering and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.