Queens customers lead city in use of solar power: Con Ed
“Here Comes the Sun” isn’t just a classic Beatles song in Queens; it’s a call to save energy. Residents and businesses here use more solar power than those in the rest of the city, according to new figures from Con Edison.
Queens customers of Con Ed have completed 284 solar projects, generating just over 6.5 megawatts of electricity, the utility said Monday. That compares to 192 installations in Brooklyn, which produce 4 MW; 77 in the Bronx for 1.5 MW; 65 in Staten Island for 982 kilowatts; and 61 in Manhattan for 956 kilowatts.
Con Ed highlighted Dykes Lumber in Long Island City to tout the benefits of going solar. The firm put up solar panels when it moved in and is saving $3,000 a month on electricity, Con Ed said. Dykes is also the first of the utility’s customers in Queens to sell excess power back to Con Ed under the state’s “remote net metering” law. Dykes is glad to save money while helping protect the environment, company manager Scott Franson said.
City fixing some Muni-Meter flaws
The good news first: Muni-Meters will no longer be able to accept payment when they have no paper to print receipts, or when parking regulations are not in effect, aside from a one-hour period before that, under legislation Mayor Bloomberg signed Monday.
The bad news: The Department of Transportation has up to two years to reprogram all the meters in the city to comply with the law.
New student loan rates double to 6.8%
The interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans, which account for about 25 percent of all federal loans for college, doubled on July 1 to 6.8 percent for new borrowers.
The increase puts the interest rate back where it was in 2007, before Congress began cutting it down over the course of four years, setting it at 3.4 percent in 2011. The rate for subsidized Stafford loans, which are granted based on financial need to undergraduates only, now equals that for unsubsidized loans, which can be taken out regardless of financial need and are available to graduate students as well as undergraduates.
The subsidized loan interest rate doubled because the law setting it at 3.4 percent sunset on July 1 and Congress did not act ahead of time to extend it. The rate change applies to new loans only.
Each party blames the other for inaction, and published reports say lawmakers may reduce the rate retroactively after the July 4 recess.
State toughens teen texting-driving law
Young drivers caught texting behind the wheel or using a hand-held cell phone now face the same penalties as they do for speeding or reckless driving, under a new law signed by Gov. Cuomo on Monday.
Drivers with probationary and junior licenses will see their licenses suspended for 60 days when convicted of texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving. Those convicted for a second time within six months of the restoration of their licenses will see them revoked for 60 days if they hold a junior license or six months if they hold a probationary license. The new penalties took effect immediately.
On June 1, the state increased the points that go on the licenses of all drivers for texting and phone-related infractions from three to five.
‘Civic Virtue’ lawsuit
Community activist Robert LoScalzo of Whitestone has sued the city for allegedly withholding documents related to moving the “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue from Kew Gardens to Brooklyn. The suit was announced by LoScalzo ally Jon Torodash, a candidate for City Council, on June 29. LoScalzo said the city failed to follow the Freedom of Information Law by not giving him all records about the controversial decision to move the sculpture from its longtime location near Queens Borough Hall.
— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone