NEW YORK -- The city will phase out the use of polluting heavy oils to heat buildings and will begin building solar power plants on capped landfills, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday in his first update to a 4-year-old environmental plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.
Under the plan, the phase-out of heavy oils from the city's boilers would start right away and be completed by the 2030 deadline. It would reduce the presence of airborne fine particulate matter, which the city says is killing 3,000 residents each year and forcing 6,000 to seek emergency asthma treatment.
The use of the heaviest heating oil, known as No. 6, would end by 2015. A lighter heating oil known as No. 4 would be eliminated by 2030. They would be replaced in part by natural gas and low-sulfur oil, the city said.
The change is aimed at the 1 percent of city buildings that produce 86 percent of the city's building soot pollution. The mayor's office said that the city would seek to encourage property owners to make the change right away, by working with energy companies to increase the distribution of natural gas and by making it easier for landlords to get permits for the work.
The city also plans to use $40 million in federal stimulus funds to start a loan program to help property owners pay for energy-efficiency upgrades. The New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation would partner with the commercial lending industry and philanthropic organizations.
The shift is part of PlaNYC, which the mayor launched four years ago, on Earth Day 2007. Since then, the administration said, the city has added more than 200 acres of park land and increased transportation options. Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 13 percent from 2005 levels, the city said.
Bloomberg said the city will explore public-private partnerships for renewable energy projects such as building solar power plants on top of larger areas of the city's capped landfills.
On Thursday, Bloomberg also released some details of a previously announced program that will invite city residents to suggest ways to green the city while also connecting them to environmental projects and organizations.
The "Change by Us" program will ask residents how the city could improve energy efficiency, air quality and community composting efforts.